Friday, January 05, 2007

An exciting 2007

I keep meaning to blog more often; there are so many things that I'd like to say, and so many updates that I'd like to give...and yet life often gets in the way and I am so busy all the time that time passes without my getting to the computer.

Here is a short attempt to catch up:

My single New Year's Resolution is to be more patient with Tessa. I find myself barking at her, or giving a time out, too often, and I am determined to check myself and to be more understanding of her wants and desires. Included in this resolution is the promise to spend more active 1:1 time with Tessa. Of course, she and I are together almost all the time, but often we are doing different things when we're together; I'm chatting with another mom as she plays with her friend, or I'm making dinner while she's doing art, or I'm cleaning up breakfast as she's playing. I'm trying to read to her more often, really play with her at the park, and get down on my hands and knees to make puzzles, play Polly Pocket, play a board game, etc. This is my number one priority for the year. Time has already been stolen from us, with over a year of cancer treatment, and I'm determined to make the most of our time together. Tessa will never remember if the laundry was caught up, but she will remember that her mother played with her.

2007 has started with a bang, and many exciting opportunities are on the horizon. It is my goal -different than a resolution, I think - to run a marathon in 2007, and so I'm training toward that goal. I plan to do the Whidbey Island Half Marathon in April, right before we go to Hawaii, and to have a bikini-ready body for Hawaii. (Wahooooo!) "The big event" is the Portland Marathon on October 7, 2007....if only I could travel again right after that! LOL

My breast cancer life has changed quite significantly in the past year, and it's not just the length of my hair that I'm talking about. Last year, there were dozens of appointments each month, and I felt so terrible that every moment was taken up with breast cancer. This year, my personal fight has turned into a public one, and I'm fighting the beast in other ways. I have three main "breast cancer" events in 2007:

- The Breast Cancer 3-Day. We have assembled a team of more than a dozen women, and I'm so excited to do this event again. Last year we raised $32,000 - I hope to raise $60,000 next year. It CAN be done, and I'm looking forward to it!

- Working actively with The Komen Foundation. I am getting quite involved with the local office (the Puget Sound affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation), and I'm on the committee for Race for the Cure. (It is my primary responsibility to write web content for the race.) I am also talking to the local Komen CEO about a speakers' bureau and participating in such.

- (This just in!) Today I spoke with a representative of Genentech, and I am officially signed up as a Patient Advocate. As such, my responsibilities would include public speaking, media opportunities, and possibly educational or promotional videos, all to promote breast cancer awareness and Herceptin. Genentech is the manufacturer of Herceptin, a drug which I have been taking since last September. Herceptin is perhaps THE biggest breakthrough in breast cancer research, and promises to cut my risk of recurrence by 52%, and so I am quite comfortable in promoting it. As Genentech is a for-profit corporation, I feel no need to work for them for free, so I will be paid an "honorarium" for my services to compensate me for my time. I'm excited to speak out for the cause, and I'm also excited to bring in some income for our family - we will see where this takes us. I will be working only occassionally, sometimes doing a telephone interview from home, and occassionally traveling within the northwest to do speaking engagements. My first activity is a training weekend in San Francisco next weekend, and I'll get paid for that. I hope that this is the begining of a very productive relationship between Genentech and we will see!

With that, I will close, as I am tired and the slopes of the Cascades (snowshoeing and sledding) call for tomorrow morning, weather permitting. It is mostly a good life that I lead, despite it all.


Monday, January 01, 2007

the new spam

This is the kind of thing I have the pleasure (not) of reading regularly. The statistics are particularly dreary; making it worse is that I've received this letter three times already.
Dear Friend of the Young Survival Coalition,

As the holiday season is upon us, I find myself reflecting on my seven years with the YSC. I am so proud of what the YSC has achieved on behalf of the more than 11,000 young women who are diagnosed yearly with breast cancer. As a young breast cancer survivor myself, I have experienced firsthand just how much the YSC gives to young women diagnosed with the disease.

However, no matter how in awe I am of the gifts we give to young women diagnosed with breast cancer – hope, peer support and a home – I am always struck by how much more we as an organization need to do.

This fall, a long time friend, colleague and founding member of the YSC called, letting me know that after eight years of being ‘cancer free,’ she had been diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. The cancer had spread to her bones. This happened just two years after giving birth to her beautiful daughter, a miracle in so many ways.

That same week, another one of our close friends and constituents, Dona, a 44-year-old African American mother of three who, upon her return from a wonderful vacation in Puerto Rico, learned that her cancer, already in her liver and bones, had now progressed….now it was in her lungs…after being stable for four years, her body had become resistant to her treatment. Dona is trying to get past the fear that this may be her last Christmas with her husband and three sons...

To listen to the stories of both of these women, and countless others, and know they are experiencing breast cancer yet again, even after all the YSC has done for so many, is not only heart wrenching, it is unacceptable. And, it means that, while all of us in the breast cancer community and within the YSC have done SO much, we have SO much more to do.

The facts:

More than 11,000 young women will be diagnosed with breast cancer
Close to 1,400 of these young women will die
Only 50% of women diagnosed under the age of 40 will live 10 years past their initial diagnosis
There is NOT enough research done on young women diagnosed with breast cancer
These facts are haunting and inspiring at the same time, as they inspire us and drive the need for the YSC to continue to work passionately and ferociously to fight this disease; to provide young women with needed resources; and work with researchers to find out WHY young women are diagnosed with breast cancer.

And, it is this drive that has allowed the YSC to achieve more in 2006 than we have since our inception. Just a few of these accomplishments include:

Impacting the lives of more than 2,000 young women diagnosed with breast cancer who have found the answers to their questions and the peer support they need through the YSC’s ResourceLink – our premier peer support program.
Receiving more than 40 million hits on, the first place a young woman turns when diagnosed and the face of the organization. Since its inception in 1999, the YSC’s website has received more than 1 billion hits.
Launching a new program for young women living with advanced breast cancer including a monthly telephone support group as well as an educational video for young women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer helping to decrease the sense of isolation a young woman feels when diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.
Continuing to co-host the largest international patient advocacy conference for young women diagnosed with breast cancer where 700+ attendees can network with each other, learn about the newest research and know that they are NOT alone.
Our eight affiliates continue to bring the mission of the YSC to their local communities decreasing isolation and building a much needed community.
Your support and your gifts make all of this possible.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of the women we here at the YSC serve, and not just because I am a 10-year survivor diagnosed at the age of 27, but because they are truly my heroes and my inspiration.

I hope you will help the YSC continue to give the gift of hope and peer support to these women this holiday season by making a gift today. Your gift will truly make a difference, and will help young women attend our annual conference; provide them with informational resources – books, educational videos and fact sheets; and most importantly provide them with knowledge that they are not alone.

You can easily make your donation by visiting or calling us at (646) 257-3000, and we will be more than happy to assist you over the phone.

I know that all the young women we work with will not just be appreciative of your gift and your thinking of them this holiday season, they will be delighted! It will be the best holiday gift they have ever received.

But, please make your gift today, before another young woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.