the cost of living…and dealing with healthcare costs

This morning I happened upon a report about women being charged and overcharged for mammograms. It was on CBS News this morning and it’s not a morning program I generally watch. But given my nine year journey with medical bills along with being a cancer survivor it resonated.

If it resonates with you, they are looking for women who have had problems getting mammograms covered and other kinds of charges to email

I wrote them to share my thoughts and say thank you. In part, what I said was:

I don’t normally watch CBS News in the morning, but it happened to be on, so I watched it this morning. I’ve watched with great interest you’re a piece about how expensive it is to get testing done that is breast related.

I am a nine year survivor of breast cancer. When I was initially diagnosed I had Aetna HMO. I had to fight for everything. I was exhausted after the surgery and into the treatment, but I had to be my own advocate or the bills would have been even more expensive.

I have an Independence Blue Cross PPO now. But even with good insurance all those tests I have to have as still an active cancer patient can be ridiculously expensive. For now, however, it seems my mammograms are covered. Other tests like MRIs have expensive co-pays.

This year I had a repeat dance twice with a second cancer which is skin cancer. Squamous cell and basal cell both requiring Mohs surgeries. One of the surgeries required a skin graft or I would’ve literally had a hole in my nose. The way insurance is so oddly structured along with hospitals payment systems, this year alone I have had over $5000 in overages that I have to pay off with a monthly payment plan.

I am grateful that both my hospital system and my insurance company are fairly easy to work with. But I know that’s the exception rather than the rule as compared to what a lot of women deal with.

I had knee surgery December 26 last year, as soon as 2020 hit the per visit for physical therapy went from $70 a visit to $100 a visit. I needed physical therapy twice a week. So I spent a lot of money on physical therapy, and that is one thing that I don’t like about my plan is physical therapy is expensive. I sucked it up and paid it because I needed the physical therapy.

When I was initially diagnosed with breast cancer it was pre-Affordable Care Act. I was self-pay on my health insurance because my employer at the time only offered himself health insurance not his employees.

Once the Affordable Care Act came in to play, I was one of the millions of people Aetna dumped in Pennsylvania. Fortunately for me the ACA meant I could get better insurance and I could go back to Independence Blue Cross Philadelphia or IBX as we know it around here. But then again, once Obamacare came into play that was pretty much all that was offered if you were self-pay in Pennsylvania.

Not to be political, but since Trump became president my healthcare costs have gone up. And every year I hold my breath and stress out because as someone who literally lives with pre-existing conditions, I am terrified of what will happen in the insurance industry.

In 2020 there have been some months as a self-employed person where I felt like I was working to pay my health insurance. But I know I am lucky because I was able to do it.

I think the problem is there is a big disparity between the hospital systems and the insurance companies. And where it gets broken down in a lot of cases is the hospitals don’t actually make that much money off of the insurance companies, but the insurance companies need to be more consistently regulated or regulated in the first place so that women can get the breast health test they need covered, and doctors get paid. Because this isn’t just 2020 where you have to fight to get stuff done in a lot of cases.

And a lot of people don’t have the luxury of having insurance companies and hospital systems that work with them. I am lucky that I can handle it even if I have to break things down into a payment plan. But it just sometimes is overwhelming to deal with medical costs and insurance.

Women do have to learn to be better advocates for themselves. They have to not be afraid to be pushy and when you’re going through cancer treatment that can be hard because you’re just tired.

When I used to have problems dealing with Aetna I found one of the most effective ways of dealing with Aetna was Twitter. They don’t like negativity on Twitter it seems.

It really shouldn’t be so punitive financially to try to get the health coverage and treatment you need as a woman.

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the one good thing about a global pandemic is….

I found the silver lining in COVID19. I haven’t seen much of Pinktober which I hate.

This is the month I really hate because you even see pink pumpkins. Whoever thought a pink pumpkin looked good? It looks like someone spilled Pepto-Bismol on them.

I hope everyone is staying healthy and getting through this weird year of 2020 ok.

I have a few friends fighting different cancers, and my prayers and thoughts and positive hopes are always with them. Just like they are always with the rest of you out there. But I am not going to pretend that I ever like Pinktober because I hate it.

This is my ninth Pinktober as a survivor and it’s the calmest because this year we are thankfully not being inundated with pink plastic crap.

As is the case every October I urge all of you to find legitimate nonprofits that you like that don’t spend all their money on pink plastic crap and pink plastic marketing campaigns, but instead are focused on helping those with breast cancer.

Peace out and remember to vote. If you are a cancer patient, or cancer survivor you are a giant walking pre-existing condition. We cannot afford four more years of that big orange narcissist in the White House.

Have a great day!


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skin cancer

It’s official. Again. My second cancer is skin cancer. Basal Cell and Squamous Cell.

Now granted the damage was done decades before breast cancer, but technically still my second cancer.

My skin cancer was discovered because after I had radiation treatment I was advised by my care team to start regular skin checks with a dermatologist going forward if I wasn’t seeing one already. And I hadn’t been because every time I had checked out a dermatologist in the past they seemed more focused on selling me on skin care products and cosmetic treatments for lack of a better description.

So at the time I asked one of my doctors and some of the nurses whom they would go to which is how I got my wonderful dermatologist. He removed some questionable and basal cell loaded moles but about three years ago other things popped up and I was referred to one of his colleagues, a Mohs specialist.

Mohs procedures are day surgeries under local anesthesia. They remove cancerous skin in layers until it’s gone. It can be a long process because each layer is examined in a lab process right there. When the skin cells test clean, you are finished and they stitch you up.

Two years ago I had a Mohs surgery for squamous cell. As of yesterday I have completed two more Mohs surgeries. One for Basal Cell and one for Squamous Cell. And one surgery involved a skin graft.

Not going to lie, the procedures hurt afterwards. Both were on my face. But if I hadn’t followed my care team’s recommendations after breast cancer surgery and treatment it could be much worse.

So the moral of this story is if you are a breast cancer patient who was told to get regular dermatologist skin checks, please do it.

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nine years.

That screenshot pretty much says it all. And yes a lumpectomy is a partial mastectomy.

I am nine years clear of breast cancer. One more year of Tamoxifen and the countdown starts in October for that.

I cried when I got the news. I know I am really lucky and yes, blessed.

Nine years.

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a breast cancer survivor in a covid19 world

I bet you didn’t know you could get COVID-19 face masks in breast cancer appropriate patterns, right? And no, nothing gets token donated to legitimate breast cancer charities.

Welcome to my breast cancer blog flowing stream of random consciousness. My head feels like a ping pong is going back and forth.

Yes I have been very quiet during this time, and this is the first time I’ve written in a long time on this blog. And if I’m honest with myself since the onset of coronavirus I’ve lived with a hum of anxiety. It’s always there. I don’t want it to be there I’m keeping myself safe and away and following the stay at home orders, even ordering all the groceries. But as a breast cancer survivor who is still technically a breast cancer patient, this thing scares the crap out of me.


Because every breast cancer patient and survivor lives an immunocompromised life. And I am the person who got the flu twice in a row the year I forgot to get a flu shot.

June 1st marks 9 years since the cancer was removed along with half of my left breast. My life is so much better post- breast cancer, I am very blessed. But this COVID-19 world in which we live is like a giant monkey wrench in the works of life.

We went into self quarantine two weeks ahead of stay at home orders because I attended a horticultural event where the second victim in my county was two weeks before the stay at home orders were issued in Pennsylvania . I never had contact with the person, did not get the virus but the rules are you are exposed or at something or where there was exposure, you report it and contact your doctors. And stay home.

This weird made for bad TV sci fi movie we are living is so surreal. A global pandemic and the last one was what? 1918? It is mind blowing.

A friend of mine posted the following on Facebook today:

March 13, 2020, schools closed in Pennsylvania.

Restaurants and bars closed the night of March 16.

Governor Wolf ordered people in the state to stay at home for thirty days. He then extended it until further notice. Delaware County may move from red to yellow on June 5th.

So we don’t forget…

Today is Sunday May 24, 2020.

– We are at 70 days of social isolation.

– Schools have been closed since mid March and are teaching remotely on-line. This will continue indefinitely. Keystones exams cancelled, AP and SAT exams postponed. Proms and graduations cancelled, postponed, or virtual. High school seniors are making their college choices based on virtual tours. Their orientations will be online, too.

– Employees who can work from home are doing so.

– Non-essential stores are closed since late March.

– There are lines / tapes inside the stores to keep people 6 feet apart.

– Long lines to get into grocery stores. Hard to get a grocery delivery.

– Amazon Prime delivery is no longer same day, next day, or 2 day.

– Bars and restaurants open only for home delivery & pick-up.

– Kentucky Derby has been postponed…1st time since 1945. Parades have been cancelled. Jazz and music festivals from coast to coast cancelled.

– All sports competitions have been cancelled. No baseball.

– All festivals and entertainment events have been banned.

– Weddings, family celebrations and birthdays have been cancelled. Funerals limited to 10 people.

-Zoom, which was a business application, is being widely used by everyone to gather groups of people virtually – socializing, funerals, weddings, workouts, religious activities are being scheduled on Zoom.

– Drive-by has a new meaning. People are doing drive-by parades to celebrate birthdays. People are doing drive-by baby showers by dropping gifts off at end of driveway.

– Young kids can’t understand why they can only see grandparents & other extended family and friends on a screen, or thru a window if someone visits in person.

– Hugs and kisses are not given. Elbows are.

-Airplanes are flying but majority of flights are canceled and only a handful of people per flight. JetBlue requires a mask.

– The churches are closed. Online mostly. Some drive-thru.

– We have to stay 6 feet apart.

– Primary voting will be done via mail-in votes.

– Shortage of masks and gloves in hospitals & other medical facilities. Shortage of ventilators.

– People are wearing masks. Grocery store and restaurants even require that you wear them to enter. People are making their own masks for sale or donation.

– Absolutely NO visitors allowed in hospitals, nursing homes, senior living, etc. If you go to the ER, you must enter alone, unless you’re the parent (or guardian) or caregiver.

– Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and anything Lysol or Clorox is in short supply and limited per person…IF you can even find them.

– Flour and yeast are also nearly impossible to find. So are freezers.

– As of today, gas prices range from $1.69-2.29.

– Stores are closing early to disinfect everything. 24 hour stores are closing by 8 or 9pm.

– Store check outs, pharmacies, and even fast food drive thru windows have added plexiglass between employee and customer. Have to reach around or under to pay!

– Only 1 family member per cart in stores.

– You can’t find isopropyl alcohol easily…supply per person is limited.

– Banks only open using drive-thru or ATM transactions.

– Australia, USA and Europe have closed their borders, along with many others.

– Western Australia has been divided into 9 territories & an instant $1,500 fine issued for crossing the border without a valid reason. (Transport workers, Essential services etc)

– No one is travelling for leisure. Airports empty. Tourism is in crisis.

– 7:00pm is “Clappy Hour” in NYC to celebrate our healthcare heroes.

– We hung rainbows in our windows.

– Everyone is binge-watching Netflix and Amazon Prime.

– Remember the Concert from Home, the Disney Family Singalongs, the Some Good News prom and graduation, the Facebook Virtual Commencement…

Why do I post this?

Next year & then every year after, this status will appear in my Facebook memories feed. And it will be an annual reminder that life is precious & that nothing should be taken for granted. We are where we are with what we have. Let’s be grateful.

Thank you to ALL THE ESSENTIAL WORKERS – healthcare, veterinary offices, supermarket/deli/restaurant/coffee shop, delivery, mail, transit, sanitation, firefighters, police, bank, etc….it takes a village of essential workers to keep us going – be grateful they get up and do their job each day!

*copied and pasted

This is our world. Our friends and family memebers are stressed out. My husband is working 14 ++ hour days working from home. So are many others I know. Just as many, many more have lost their jobs or fear they will. Nothing like a global pandemic to rock the economy, huh? Yet do we really get relief from the astronomical health insurance premiums? Not so much.

And then there is the human contact, we miss our friends and family. And with a global pandemic we are seeing the best and worst in people wherever we live. I think there will be a special divine and social retribution for those who have been awful through this.

So here I am on the verge of 9 years since June 1, 2011 and I can’t even get a mammogram until mid June. And I am legit scared. Not so much of what the mammogram will say but bro actually have to go into a hospital setting. Same as today when I return to physical therapy (PT) post knee surgery. It was interrupted because of COVID-19.

And I am scared of that and I need the PT. My knee surgery was on my left leg, and left side is where sentinel node was removed in 2011.

And you know how after you’ve had breast cancer surgery they tell you where the sentinel node was taken out you never have blood drawn, you don’t get shots, you don’t have blood pressure cuffs, you fly with a sleeve? Basically you don’t do anything on the left side? I found out why. Since this knee surgery I have had slight lymphedema from my left knee down to part of my foot. It has lessened a great deal, but it still flares up.

So now as we begin to go back into the world, what does it look like really? Will it be easy to learn to re-navigate? Or fraught with disarray and chaos? Or will it be like this never happened?

I don’t have those answers.

Do you?

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self-serving oncologist or miracle worker?

dr onco

I don’t think I have EVER been negative about an oncologist. But this one I saw on TV recently in an NBC10 Philadelphia news segment just doesn’t sit right with me.

All this  it goes back to when I was newly diagnosed. I probably wrote about it somewhere on this blog.

I was just diagnosed and we were laying out my plan for surgery and treatment after and all the different tests and it was scary and overwhelming. It was terrifying if I am honest, but I just kept pushing through with the end game of being cancer free.

All of a sudden there were a couple of people who appeared out of nowhere that sold “cures”. It was super awkward in one instance because it was somebody I knew pretty well and when I turned their “cure” down I literally never heard from them again.  But did they really think I was going to forgo surgery and treatment and be treated with iodine to cure my cancer?

I forget what the other “cures” were but it’s like they came out of the woodwork at a time when my head was SO full.   If I had had a less strong personality some of these people probably would’ve taken advantage of me, and these kinds of people take advantage of people all the time. Not the people I encountered specifically, but there are people like this out there. So this report, right or wrong, sends up red flags for me personally.

Also I must note that two very important people on my care team at that time were also both survivors of breast cancer. And although they were physicians they did not heal themselves.  They also had their own treatment plans with their own doctors, and they did not impose their treatment plans on me because every cancer is DIFFERENT. And well, also wouldn’t that be ethically and morally wonky?

What they did do was share their knowledge with me of how certain things would go or say for example what the tattooing looked like if I had to have nipples removed as part of my surgery. They were knowledgeable so it made me like super comfortable because I knew if I had a question no matter how dumb, they were there for me.

All of my doctors did not (and still don’t have) have a problem with certain alternative things being added to my life post-surgery and post-treatment in the form of supplements and alternative therapies like bio energy as part of what I was doing but NOT in place of. The deal was I had to tell them about everything and it had to NOT interact with any of the drugs or radiation etc.

And I will note that they had me on zero supplements during radiation because they didn’t want things that fight free radicals fighting the radiation.

My care team has remained open to alternative therapies combined with traditional therapies, but they were very resolute that my cancer would be best served with traditional medicine.

So when a doctor comes along and wants to throw all of that out of the window it doesn’t sit right. And I listened to the interview and she was talking about what she was treated for and how she felt about her body. I. Me. My. I.Me. My. 

And while I respect that degree of self-focus in conjunction with her OWN cancer, and while I will respect different strokes for different folks, if she was TREATING me as my physician I would change physicians because I would wonder if she was foisting her personal beliefs on me as a patient at the risk of my life?

I will not she is NOT wrong about correlations between weight and cancer and I struggle with that thanks to tamoxifen.  But I am taking steps to deal with that.  I will not go straight vegan although some plants foods are super foods truly for breast cancer survivors and patients. I know women who have gone straight vegan who have ended up with other health problems.

I have my list of super foods my radiation oncologist Dr. Marisa Weiss (check out a recent interview here) teaches her patients about.  Because of her I got off commercial brand name antiperspirants and went for organic deodorants.  Now it took a while for my body to adjust, but it’s about reducing the chemicals. And I honestly don’t miss what I used to use. I have gone that route with lotions and shampoos and conditioners too when possible. Because of her I read labels and go more for organically grown food whenever possible. (Check out her non-profit )

I thought it was questionable of this television station to air this particular report. The doctor must have a publicist making the rounds? To me it was not much better than fake news. It was a fluffy piece, in my humble opinion, about a very selfish self-focused woman whom on camera gave off a vibe of having a serious screw loose. I felt like I was watching an infomercial and you would have a toll-free number at the end where you can sign up and pay her for whatever. As a survivor that really didn’t sit right with me.

I keep wanting to believe this doctor is different yet good,  but I keep getting snake oil saleswoman vibes. And no, I don’t have a problem with functional wellness. Or supplements as I take them. But I look at the good doctor’s website and then her interviews and wonder although she says as part of her mantra patients are heard, can they be heard above her talking about herself and her journey? We all have a journey, not trying to diminish hers but is it the most important one in the room when she’s the doctor and you are the patient?

As a woman in a breast cancer group I belong to said : “cancer is so multi factorial and complicated that while those may play a factor for some different types, it’s not a one size fits all, not even close.”

Another woman noted (and I agree 100%): “Ditching traditional treatment and replacing it with holistic? I believe it’s a death sentence. But combining traditional with holistic is fabulous and gives you a way more powerful tool for more effective treatment and a better quality of life as you go through treatment and recover.”

Yet another woman said something else that also so deeply resonated with me: “I wish people would understand that medicines come from natural sources – and have been shown to work to eradicate the cancer. Everyone I know that went the holistic route is dead, too. It makes me beyond sad.  Immunotherapy boosts the body’s natural healing. It is still a catalyst with something outside the body to make it happen. If the body, alone, was capable of healing itself from cancer, it would not have allowed it to happen to begin with.”

I can’t say oh my I wanted to take Tamoxifen for a decade and I wanted weeks of intense radiation treatment, but I knew I had to do it.  Tamoxifen has been an obnoxious journey as I have noted here, but I am NOT one of those women who is going to ditch traditional treatment with a good prognosis for a maybe trendy vibe. Will I be glad when Tamoxifen is over? Hell, yes. I have experienced a bunch of the side effects but I am here to complain about them.

I am a 9 year survivor soon. There are many worse off than me, and again every cancer is different. I am blessed and I know it.

Here are the links to media coverage on this doctor.  Start with the TV interview:

NBC10 Philadelphia January 31, 2020 Philly Oncologist Has Holistic Approach to Preventing Cancer

Philly Voice NOVEMBER 01, 2018 Einstein breast surgeon always has her head in the game

Main Line Today: Meet MLT’s December Cover Doc
Functional Medicine Specialist Dr. Jennifer Simmons Reveals Her “Magic Six” Keys to Health. BY MELISSA JACOBS

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and the beat goes on

It’s 2020. It’s one month tomorrow since I had knee surgery on my left knee. The healing is happening but it feels slow. Part of the problem is my left side is where sentinel node was removed when I had my breast cancer surgery 8 1/2 years ago.

In 2019 we discovered I did not escape lymphedema entirely and I was getting a touch in my left lower leg and foot. Not my right leg, just the left. Which means I think a lot of the post surgical swelling I am experiencing is in part due to my left side doesn’t like to be messed with.

But I am still on this planet to bitch about life’s minutia, so I will be fine!

Others are not so lucky. I am blessed I do not have to live with metastatic breast cancer. I know three women who are and they are each so different.

One woman who is an awesome human being is doing pretty darn well. She has her ups and downs and is brutally honest with how she feels. I respect that. No sugar coating, just real. She goes for her treatment and does her best to live her life.

The other two are very different.

One who is newer to this whole thing seems to post lots of warrior and other photos on her social media. She seems focused more on the stuff people are leaving at her door, which means poor thing is living in denial. By all reports her cancer is a nasty case and she has had infections and other stuff. I feel badly for her and I am glad her friends are lifting her up. But when the whole concept of cancer really hits her, I hope she can cope.

The last is in the end game stage of metastatic breast cancer. She is delaminating. She has a world of troubles. She is talking about dying now. She is posting photos of her body now on Facebook to show swelling. People must have gotten upset at her posting photos of her reconstructed breasts because she commented on the fact that what you see aren’t real breasts at this point. She has one child who seems estranged now. This woman lived for this child and personally I think the child needs to grow the hell up because this woman probably doesn’t have much time left.

I know of other women lately who have finished their treatment and rung their bells. I don’t even know them and it makes me fill up with tears when I hear of other women ringing the bell. It sounds silly, but it IS such a big deal. It’s a little thing that means the world.

Maybe that is why I like bells so much? I didn’t think about that until now. I had actually written about this elsewhere- how I like old bells and I have them in the garden and in my home and I love to hear them ring. Maybe when I ring my little bells I am ringing them for all of us?

Prayers up to those dealing with breast cancer.

That is all.

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stressed out in oncology

Today is oncology appointment day. While waiting to see my oncologist a woman comes in. Doesn’t have an appointment but should have an appointment demanding to see her oncologist. Her oncologist is my oncologist.

This woman made a 25 minute scene at the front desk. She has succeeded in completely stressing out the entire waiting room, myself included.

And for what? Lady do you think you are the only cancer patient waiting to see your, OUR, oncologist?

We are all here waiting, and we all made appointments. You did not. The doctor told you when to come back, but he doesn’t schedule the appointments. We have to.

“I’m leaving!” The woman shouts at the top of her lungs.

Please lady, by all means leave. You have ruined the calm and zen of the waiting room which is a little thing every cancer patient wants before they are seen.

I will note in almost 9 years of seeing my oncologist they have never screwed up an appointment.

I feel for this woman because she is obviously so angry. That’s not helpful or healthy for cancer patients. We should all say a prayer for her, no sarcasm intended. She obviously needs to be lifted up.

So now we all continue to wait our turn. It’s never ideal but it is what it is.

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pay it forward

Let us begin with the never ending adventure of becoming middle-aged. Yours truly has popped the meniscus in her left knee.

But last night I braced up my leg iced it all day and hobbled on a cane to my friend’s Christmas market opening. It was all on one level and my friend was nice enough to have chairs strategically placed throughout her barn so I had places to get two to sit down and then I would stand up and start the process all over again.

Hobbling around I ran into someone who is a friend of a particular woman who I’m not friends with, but just underwent a double mastectomy. This woman was speaking to a bunch of people (including a couple if folks I was speaking with) while standing right next to me. It was a very detailed updateabout this woman and her cancer battle.

I am always amazed at how freely people speak about others at times around a bunch of strangers. And that’s fine, it’s not like this other woman who is not a friend of mine is hiding the fact that she has breast cancer. I just found it amusing when I asked her friend if she had gotten through her second operation yet, and she looked at me with like shock and surprise that I knew about it. And like I had two heads.

I mean come on! There is a Go Fund Me That talks about the first surgery not going well. “more surgery is required” was one of the direct quotes.

And then there was the whole thing about lymph node involvement and reading between the lines that she didn’t have clear margins and it’s metastatic.

I’m not psychic that usually means more surgeries. Especially if the margins aren’t clear. And how do I know that? Because I remember the conversation I had with my oncologist and surgeon before my surgery. And I was told in no uncertain terms that if they did not get clear margins there was another surgery at least.

I feel very badly for this woman and I think about her because she’s got two teenage kids and I know how much she loves her life. She might not love me and I definitely do not love her and we’re not friends but I still deeply appreciate what she’s going through, which is why I had made a small donation to her Go Fund Me in the first place.

Sadly, this woman is also in a hospital system I wouldn’t have a hangnail in. And what her friend was saying to everyone last night is she also has to have a full hysterectomy. And I told her friend I had gone that route as well but fortunately for me, I went through my breast cancer treatment before the hysterectomy. I had ample recovery time, which this woman won’t have.

Her friend last night also said that this woman is facing a very daunting and rigorous schedule of both chemotherapy and radiation in addition to additional surgeries.

I said to the woman I’m not going to pretend I am friendly with her but you might want to have her look at a specific nonprofit and I gave her the name. It’s a local nonprofit that deals with helping out patients with metastatic breast cancer and breast cancer and I think they’re wonderful. And they are right out here where we live.

I was trying to be nice and this woman turns and looks at me and says that this other woman knows everyone essentially and knows how fundraising works and all about fundraising and nonprofits so she was sure she had heard of that nonprofit.

OK signed me slack-jawed, cancer know it all. How about just saying thank you for your kindness?

It was really kind of stunning. I was grateful for people to tell me about resources when I was going through the surgery and treatment. I wasn’t telling her to go buy the crazy quack iodine cure that someone tried to sell me over 8 years ago, I was just sharing the name of a nonprofit that really helps women locally.

Now maybe I shouldn’t have said anything but this conversation was not going on in a secret room in hushed tones. It was going on at an event. so if you’re going to discuss your friend in public so that everyone can hear, people are going to speak to you. Duh.

To this woman I will say the following: you don’t know what resources your friend may or may not have heard of. And she is the one going through cancer so if someone gives you the name of a nonprofit that might be helpful, especially when you are in a crisis financially as well, pass it along, even if it comes from someone you both perceive as public enemy number one. Or even check non-profit out yourself before you pass it along but don’t discount it out of hand because of the person who is giving you the information.

It’s crazy that I am seeing so many women facing cancer again. I feel like every day I hear of someone else.

And every day I count my blessings as an eight year survivor. I pay it forward because that’s the right thing to do. That’s the Christian thing to do.

So pay it forward people, even in the face of cancer know it alls.

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no, wouldn’t wish breast cancer on anyone


Image result for breast cancer women art

This is probably going to be a strange and meandering post.  First of all, please, please, please do NOT send me any breast cancer awareness month anything. I think Pinktober is bullsheit and I keep saying it…and yet…I get things sent to me. Every damn day during October.

Really? Come on now, anyone who knows me even only through this blog knows I. Hate. Pinktober.

Now for betwixt and between.

Recently I donated to a Go Fund Me of someone I know, who is not a friend. She faces a double mastectomy tomorrow I am told.

I was conflicted about donating at first.  Because this is someone who at one time I thought would be a friend and was a new friend for a while. Then she betrayed that.  I remember that at the time it hurt quite a bit.  I was new to where I currently live and I thought when we met that she was nice and bubbly. Can’t say I wasn’t warned by other friends, because I was.  But I wanted to believe the best in her. But that isn’t how it played out and I walked away. Without regret.

The last time I spoke to her was a few years ago was when she called my cell phone rather randomly to see if she had seen me driving a particular car as she passed me on the main road near my own road.  I told her yes, and that was the end of the conversation.

I have heard dribs and drabs about her since then.  I did not really pay any of it much mind. Until recently. A friend asked me if I knew that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Obviously, as she is out of my orbit, I did not.

I then saw the Go Fund Me. Would she do the same for me if I had one? Probably not.  But that is not the point is it? I gave a small donation because I wouldn’t wish breast cancer on anyone. And she has children.  They need their mom. It’s pretty much that simple.

I like to think that paying it forward is just the right way to be.

Older-photos-021A double mastectomy is nothing to joke about. That is serious surgery. She is not the only one going through it, either. Someone else she knows is, and I have a couple of friends dealing with this now. I said years ago when I was first diagnosed that you do not realize how many are struck with this disease, even in your own world, until you are diagnosed.

I lost my friend Mary this past summer.  That was a tough one. She was the most positive person I have ever known who lived with (and died from) metastatic breast cancer.

Another friend, a newer friend, is living with metastatic breast cancer and was married to someone I knew for about 30 years.  I say was because he also passed away this summer.  He was her support system. Not all of it, but come on, much like my sweet man is to me, he was a huge part of it.

I still remember when he called me the day she got her diagnosis. He was terrified and calm on the phone all at the same time.  Because when everyone finds out that a loved one has this diagnosis, it’s like ping pong balls careening off the inside of your head.

I worry about his widow, my friend, but this woman however has amazing  grace. Pure and simple. I am lucky to know her.

And these are all of the people I think about and wondered what they would do if they were in my position.  And I would like to think they would pay it forward, which is why I am. People are hosting a fundraiser for this other woman from the Go Fund Me  in November. I am not going to attend because that I just can’t do.  I also do not think it would be appropriate. She will be a few short weeks out of surgery and should be surrounded by those who truly care for her.  Gawkers and curiosity seekers need not apply.

Truly, I hope her surgery goes well. I hope her recovery goes well. But for the Grace of God go any of us and well, I already have danced with the devil known as breast cancer. I am lucky and I am blessed.

I read a piece from Time Magazine from 2016 again today. It was about the history of breast cancer activism essentially. Very profound.  I will leave you with this excerpt to think about:

Today, activists are pivoting their focus from awareness and early detection towards saving the lives of patients who have progressed to advanced stage IV disease, or metastatic breast cancer. And breast cancer activism has evolved from individual patients voicing their own experiences, to the formation of community support groups for cancer survivors, to political organizing for a cure. It has grown from a small grassroots movement to a widespread network of professional advocacy. Critics point out that, along the way, the struggle against breast cancer has been exploited by companies co-opting the pink ribbon to advertise their own products or bolster their image. But before all of that, it was a movement about giving women the courage to speak openly about their bodies, and the agency to decide their preferred course of treatment when faced with a serious illness.

#ThinkBeforeYouPink  #PayItForward

Related image

Paint for Pink — Where Graffiti Meets Education and Health for Breast Cancer Awareness — in Newark, NJ 2016 

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