Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thank You

I would like to thank Jennifer Lynch and her staff at toponlinecolleges.com for naming this blog as one of the "15 most inspiring breast cancer blogs" on the internet. www.battlingbreastcancerwithclass.com was ranked #7 on the list of 15.

The review stated: "This blogger provides inspiration and a touch of humor to give breast cancer patients and survivors, like herself, something to smile about." That was precisely my mission just over a year ago when I created this blog. I wanted women to see the hilarity of trying to cover a bald head, and how much fun it is to milk the perks of battling breast cancer by pulling out what I call my Amex cancer credit card. Unfortunately, I lost card membership when my hair grew back.

This honor motivates me to keep on blogging and eventually turn all this rambling commentary into a book!

Visit http://www.toponlinecolleges.com/blog/2010/15-inspiring-breast-cancer-survivor-blogs to view other inspiring breast cancer survivor blogs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Breast Cancer Rising Among Women Under 40

The comment I received today from a woman who is only 40 years old and about to have a mastectomy, made me ask this question: Why is breast cancer rising among younger women? Dr. Ott-Young told me that one of her more recent cases is a young mother with an infant that is only 28 years old--that also just had a mastectomy. Said Dr. Ott-Young: She should be nursing her baby with her breasts, not losing them." She firmly believes the rise of breast cancer among women in their 30s and even 20s is a result of our environment.

The question is, what's in the environment that's doing this? Is it the water? The air? I recently found out there was landfill underneath my townhouse, which my condo association says is one reason the building is moving. But now I'm wondering if that's why I got breast cancer. After all, the woman who lived across the street from me died of ovarian cancer just three years ago.

Since I can remember, my mother told me there was no way I would get breast cancer because we had no history of it in our family. Clearly, all of us can throw that theory out the window.

We've got to implore all the breast cancer research organizations that we support to get to the bottom of this enviromental mystery. Maybe then we can change this scary trend. Maybe then women with a whole life ahead of them won't have to undergo the exhausting battle against breast cancer.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Remember Where You Came From

My hometown is Minneapolis, Minnesota. For most of my life, I managed to get back there about every five years. Usually, it was for a family wedding. But this year, I got back home in May for a wedding, and again this month for a high school reunion.

I could have easily passed up on one or the other event--like many people did--and blame the economy. But I didn't because after breast cancer, I realized the importance of maintaining relationships. If you've got a group of family and friends together in one place, it's important to make an effort to see them as much as you can.

And if it's back in your hometown, so much the better. Everytime I go back to Minnesota, I am reminded of the the humble and helpful nature of my people. Not that I don't like New England, my neighbors just aren't as down to earth here. When you are in a bedroom community of New York City--where making it big is the be all and end all--people learn to toot their own horn for survival.

But Minnesotans just want to make a decent living, raise good kids, and unwind up north at their cabins on the lake--which most everyone can afford. It's a different mindset. And now that I've been gone for so many years, I can appreciate the simplicity of that lifestyle so much more.

Going back to Minnesota nourishes me emotionally and spiritually. Spending time with cherished family and friends makes me feel that if I left this earth, my life has mattered and I would be missed. Just breathing the crisp, pine-scented air of the northern lake region reminds me of my idylic childhood there--which sustains my soul. Nostalgia can lighten your heart with happiness.

So whenever possible, go back home--you will leave more grounded and feel good about reconnecting with the people that knew you way back when. They are the ones that knew you and loved you before you became what you are today. Therefore, they understand the essence of who you really are--without all the smoke and mirrors. Going back to Minnesota is like slipping into an old pair of Minnetonka moccasins. You forget how good they felt walking in them until you try them on again.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Choosing Happiness

I recently bought a plaque that sits on a small table right in front of my bed that reads: "It's doesn't matter how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get back up." I believe it was a quote from the last Rocky movie.

This slogan is exemplified in Terry McMillan's recent novel, Getting To Happy, which is a sequel to her bestseller Waiting To Exhale. Her four main characters are now in their early fifties dealing with divorces, job losses, financial instability and the loss of a husband. McMillan shows readers how her characters' mutual friendships help them to move on and heal without getting stuck in the trap of bitterness. And that's no easy task when you're middle-aged.

Each woman has a coping mechanism to deal with their pain. One uses shopping as an escape, another one eats to numb her grief. Still another character just keeps popping pills. It is their love and support for one another that forces each one them to face the fact that that their behaviors have been barriers to finding happiness.

McMillan's message is clear. You must look at yourself--and not blame others--for your lack of happiness. Shit happens. Just face the crap with integrity and you'll get beyond the tragedy.

If you are a woman in your fifties--like me--I think you will identify with Terry McMillan's voice in this wonderful book that has an important message to baby boomers.