dear pat toomey, bob casey and entire US senate….

As your constituent and as an American I’m asking you to protect all Americans by opposing the American Health Care Act.

This harmful bill gives billions to special interests while dramatically increasing costs for older Americans. This bill includes an “age tax” that would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more — or even higher — for their health coverage than everyone else. On top of that, it reduces tax credits.

Together, these changes could cost older people up to $13,000 more a year. It also weakens Medicare, and could cost people with pre-existing conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease more than $25,000 a year in premiums. 

It simply isn’t fair for older (or any) Americans to see their costs skyrocket, while insurance and drug companies get even richer. I expect my legislators to represent my interests — not those of special interests — and oppose the AHCA.

I am a breast cancer survivor. I have been self-pay on my insurance for years because of loopholes that already exist for smaller businesses – even though my former employer years ago kept himself covered he didn’t keep any of us covered. But even before the affordable care act I always kept myself covered with benefits. However in 2011 I developed breast cancer. So if you go forward with this act, I will not have coverage. You literally might be dooming me to death.

You all cannot stand idly by and allow this country to continue to disintegrate. You should not want to stand idly by and watch your constituents face the possibility of death because they can’t get health coverage due to pre-existing conditions. 

 Is the affordable care act perfect? No because one of the flaws in the system that neither political party ever wishes to address is the actual reformation of the insurance companies themselves. That’s where a huge problem lies. 

 Completely removing the affordable care act and the protections that millions of us wanted for decades to be able to have is not right. 
Allowing certain factions of politics to govern the entire country is not right. We aren’t monopoly pieces on the game board. We are human beings. Human beings that will be paying for your health care and everything you want through our taxes while you remove our ability to have coverage. I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m not a slave and I never signed up to live on a political plantation. 

Say no to Trump Care. I don’t care what political party you are, do the right thing – for once.

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

love

Yesterday I had knee surgery.

It was arthroscopic surgery to repair a very torn meniscus.  In the last couple of days of February / first couple of days of March, I bent over from the waist to pick up like a sock I think it was off the floor and I heard a loud pop – or maybe it wasn’t audible to anyone like me but I swear anyone standing next to me could’ve heard it.

Given the state of health care today it literally took two months for me to get through everything to get approved for surgery.

And as I was in knee surgery yesterday, Congress totally screwed breast cancer survivors as we are still breast cancer patients….with pre-existing conditions.  Yet every day Americans like you and I will continue to pay for the gold plated health benefits of politicians.

But that is a post for another day. Today’s post is about love.

Six years ago as of April 28, I was planning  for breast cancer surgery and treatment. It seemed like fate had played a cruel joke on me – here I had fallen in love with the most wonderful man who loved me for me and the early days of that love were being tested by breast cancer.

My sweet man is not a flashy kind of love guy. In other words it’s not for show, it’s a quiet enduring love that still leaves me breathless.  To have someone who genuinely loves you and you feel the exact same way in return is the most amazing gift you can ever be given.

I went from being someone who barely took an aspirin or allergy pill to feeling like a pharmacology cocktail with radiation and Tamoxifen and all that stuff.  I have gone from breast cancer to a full hysterectomy to knee surgery yesterday. But through it all I have someone who loves and believes in me. and that’s what I woke up thinking about this morning.

I am so lucky.

I don’t know if I am articulating any of this sufficiently because right now I am feeling the nauseous after effects of anesthesia and the cup of coffee I should not have had today but the Italian in me was going to scream if I didn’t have caffeine. I also am having some serious pain management issues right now from my newly operated on knee.

So here I sit in bed with a big old ice pack on a propped up knee.  And I am a crappy patient. I have a really hard time letting anyone do anything for me, and my sweet man in his quiet solid way just takes care of me.

It took a long time to find this kind of love, and until it happened I wondered if it ever really existed. Now I know it does and it is such a powerful, wonderful thing.

I love you my sweet man. Thank you for loving me.

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anniversaries and the way things happen

Tomorrow is the sixth anniversary of my diagnosis of invasive lobular breast cancer. Knock on wood I’m still cancer free. And I’ve said it before, but a long strange trip it has indeed been.  Truly.

I still remember exactly what I was doing when the phone rang and I got my diagnosis.  It’s just one of those things I will probably always remember.

Yesterday I was at the hospital doing all the pre-op for my knee surgery and I got all turned around trying to find where I was supposed to go and the floors were brutal on my knee waiting for surgery. It wasn’t so much fun.

I looked for help and met one of the hospital’s Red Coat Ambassadors and she offered to walk me to where I needed to be. We were talking and I asked how she came to be one of their “ambassadors”.  So she told me.

 Another breast cancer survivor.  We always find each other.  And she has also had survived one other cancer, uterine I believe.

I have said since I began this journey it’s like this radar out there how all of us find each other. It’s like we sense each other.

She was such a remarkable woman and so very positive. She was literally exactly what the doctor ordered for me yesterday. I have been in a bit of a bad place in my head because of the knee pain like a big baby.  In my own defense because I have a high threshold for pain, the pain must be pretty bad if I can actually feel it.

But anyway, I think things that happen like that always happen for a reason. So I thanked that gracious lady for being in the right place at the right time.  She was also a reminder of the shore goodness of human beings that still exists in this crazy world in which we live.

Once I get through my knee surgery it will be time to start the annual breast cancer patient roulette of mammograms and doctors appointments.

 But for the grace of God go I.  I am alive and I love my life and I am really grateful.

Posted in breast cancer | Tagged , | 2 Comments

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.

 

 

Posted in breast cancer, fake charity | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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.

Posted in breast cancer | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

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

 

Posted in breast cancer, fake charity | Tagged , , | 2 Comments