Monday, July 30, 2007

And now for an important public service announcement

I know, many of you who know me are well aware that my best friend was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer when she was pregnant. (Because she's an overachiever like that. Most of us would have enough trouble with either cancer OR pregnancy AND working full time but nope, not her.) I had never heard of inflammatory breast cancer until the email from her. ("Are you sitting down? Good. I'm pregnant! I'm due in June and it's a boy and he's healthy and we're thrilled. And I have breast cancer. It's called inflammatory breast cancer, and it's one of the most lethal forms, and I'm starting treatment tomorrow." Yah. That's the email you like to see from your BFF when you are strung out from trying to nurse your own newborn and desperately seeking comfort and connection from the internet.)

Since that time, I have learned of three other women with it, which leads me to believe one of three things: 1) the percentage of all breast cancers that inflammatory represents must be growing from the stated 1%-5% (because really, otherwise how do I hear of all these and almost no others?); 2) further proof of the "once you become aware of something you find it everywhere" phenomenon (ever have that happen with a new word or idea--you never heard of it, then find it 6 times in a day?); or 3) it's getting better press in general.

Anyway, here's a post from the latest diagnosee in Bloggityville. Please read it. Please remember it. Please do your BSEs, or remind someone you love. And, thankfully, my BFF is now a few years out and doing well.

From Toddler Planet:

Inflammatory breast cancer
Monday July 23rd 2007, 3:11 pm
Filed under: About Us / Favorites, breast cancer
We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

P.S. Feel free to steal this post too. I’d be happy for anyone in the blogosphere to take it and put it on their site, no questions asked. Dress it up, dress it down, let it run around the place barefoot. I don’t care. But I want the word to get out. I don’t want another young mom — or old man — or anyone in between — to have to stare at this thing on their chest and wonder, is it mastitis? Is it a rash? Am I overreacting? This cancer moves FAST, and early detection and treatment is critical for survival.

Thank you.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Wow, nothing like being tagged to get me back to blogging here. I'm totally honored that Jennifer Niesslein picked my blog--though as suggested, I'm sort of asking for it here. Still, fun to be picked by someone I've only met once.

Here are the rules:

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.

2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Hmmm. I'm not sure I know eight bloggers to tag. And eight random facts about me:

1) I kissed Jimmy Osmond. Yep, always with an eye for the less obvious heartthrob, even from girlhood, that would be me. Donny was obnoxious with those purple socks, but Jimmy? Adorable and overlooked as the kid brother. Luckily, my mother loved me very much and bought tickets to see the Osmonds perform at the Valley Forge Music Center--a theater in the round--remember those?--probably sometime around, oh, 1978 or so. (NO, not in the 2000s.) I had the seat on the end and at some point Jimmy wandered down our aisle, singing "Baby Face," and when he went to shake my hand, I just up and kissed the boy, pushing the mic out of the way. Hussy.

2) I am unable to eat peppers (the veggie, not the seasoning) without getting sick, which is tragic after the major role they played in my Italian-cooking-infused childhood.

3) Hardly a newsflash but I'm a terrible night owl and have been for years. My older son (all of 3 and 3/4, as of today) is also trending this way, which is unfortunate as the hours after he's asleep are when I actually get on the computer.

4) I have been to 45 states--35 for work. I'm missing Montana, Alaska, Oregon, Louisiana, and New Mexico. My original goal was "50 by 40," but having those kids in the second half of my 30s really slowed my travel. I regret nothing except missing New Orleans pre-Katrina. My last "new" state? Ohio. Really. Unless you count being in the Louisville airport, which is actually in Ohio...but I don't. And the one before that was Texas. Still haven't been to Dallas or Houston, but I can tell you a ton about the cockroaches in Laredo. (Not a slam against the people of Laredo...I mean the cockroaches for real. They galloped in herds across the floor of the ballroom where I was making a presentation, and no one blinked but me.) I think Alaska is next.

5) I grew up in a very conservative area of a very conservative archdiocese, and yet had a tremendously liberal Catholic upbringing, with things like celebrating the Passover seder in CCD and inviting the Quakers' youth group to Mass and meeting with them as part of their exploration of faiths. I know it was the 1970s but it still seems almost impossible that it happened that way and I feel lucky it did.

6) I never thought I would breastfeed a baby past four months or the cutting of the first teeth and here I am with a 22 month old still going strong.

7) My ears are not pierced. Neither were my mother's, nor her mother's before her. My grandmother was raised primarily by her grandmother, who considered it "paisan" (peasant, low class, in this instance) and not something "American girls" did. Times have changed and I should perhaps reclaim my heritage but in elementary school, I figured out that if I pierced them, I'd only ever get earrings for birthday gifts again, and that was the end of that idea.

8) My parents bought a color TV for the first time so I could watch Sesame Street in color. I was 9 months old. My mother told me for years that she never could have gotten dinner on the table if it weren't for Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, and Electric Company buying her the time to do it. So maybe this is why I let my kids watch tv despite a husband who actually worked on coding violence in children's television.

Hmmm, eight people. Well, there's Rachel, and Anjali, of course, although I'm thinking that she has done a meme like this before...and Tiffany. I'll try to think of others at a more decent hour!