Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Power Within

When you are going through breast cancer treatment, your whole life feels like it's spinning out of control. First, you have no control over your body. Once, when I was driving home from work--two days after chemo--I felt this wave of exhaustion. I had no other choice but to pull into a rest stop on I 95 and take a nap in my car for 30 minutes before I continued my journey home.

You get sick. You may get an infection. And you can't do half the things you used to be able to do on any given day. What can you do? Enlist the support of others to help you do what must get done.

Do your best to maintain a sense of normalcy in your life. That is why I elected to work. My boss was very flexbile about letting me go home early on Fridays when chemo side effects started kicking in.

You can't control feeling ill. What can you do?  Plan ahead. You will start to know how and when your body starts reacting to chemo and radiation Make sure you are in a safe place--like at home on your couch when you get sick. I had to learn this the hard way. On Wednesdays I would have chemo and usually 48 hours after treatment--on Fridays--the side effects would begin. After my third or fourth treatment, I decided to take a day trip to New York City on Saturday, which is 90 minutes away from where I live. In the afternoon I got deadly ill. The only way I managed to drive home way by eating lots of candied ginger, which I picked up in Chinatown. It helps with nauseau. Good to know.

Just do your best and cut yourself some slack. This too, will pass. Know that the pain you feel today is all in the name of saving your life. Keep your chin up and carry on. You can control the way you manage your life while going through treatment. And that's how you use the power within.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cancer Survival Rates--Look at The Bright Side!

If you have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and are understandably in a "why me?" state of mind, consider this: breast cancer has one of the highest survival rates of any cancer. About 83% of breast cancer survivors are still alive and kicking after five years. Those are odds pretty good if you ask me.

Even prostate cancer--which is a highly treatable cancer among men--doesn't have as favorable a prognosis, with a 76% survival rate after five years. Skin cancer is the best cancer to have with global survival rates of 85%. Lung cancer patients, however, are not so lucky. Those diagnosed with this aggressive disease only have a 10% survival rate after five years.

Here is an excerpt from Disabled World News breaking down survival rates by cancer type.

Survival percentages"In the past, cancer was considered to be fatal. However, nowadays it has come to be recognised as a curable illness", Chirlaque points out. "Testimony to this is the results shown in this study, which indicate that of every four people who suffer from it (with the exception of lung cancer), more than three overcome it".

  1. Breast cancer, the most common tumour in women, presents a high survival percentage: 83% of patients have survived this type of cancer after five years.
  2. Lung cancer is one of the most aggressive tumours and survival after five years is very low: only 10% of patients diagnosed with a malignant neoplasm survive for more than five years.
  3. Colorectal cancer (of the colon and rectum), the most common malignant tumour if we group men and women together, presents an average survival rate of 50-55% five years after diagnosis, meaning that half the patients survive this form of cancer.
  4. Prostate cancer, today the most common tumour in men, has an increasingly favourable prognosis, with a global survival rate of 76%, which is higher in young adults.
  5. Ovarian cancer presents a very varied prognosis depending on age: whilst 70% of the group between 15 and 44 years survives this form of cancer, this is the case for only 19% of those over 74 years-old.
  6. Testicular cancer, a rare malignant tumour that mainly affects middle-aged males, is the tumour with the best prognosis, with a 95% survival rate five years after diagnosis.
  7. Skin melanoma displays one of the highest survival rates, reaching values over 85%, although there are European countries where recovery exceeds 90%.
  8. Hodgkin's lymphoma displays high recovery with survival greater than 92% amongst young people, although amongst elderly groups it fails to reach 50%.

The point of this survival rate suvey is to remind all of us breast cancer survivors that it could be a hell of a lot worse. A former colleague of mine, Melissa, was only 26 years old at the time she was diagnosed with lung cancer five years ago--only six months before my breast cancer diagnosis. As I write this, Melissa is laying in the ICU unit of Yale Smilow Cancer Hospital with a breathing tube stuck in her mouth. Her twin sister Lindsay is heartbroken as she implores everyone on her Facebook network to pray for her ill sibiling.

Today I am running around with a full head of hair, 100% percent back to normal. But Melissa is struggling--with every labored breath she takes--to stay alive. Her cancer spread to her brain five years ago too. She has had so many radiation treatments on her head, much of her hair will never grow back again. Melissa has been wearing wigs the entire time she has been sick. Just so you know, Melissa was not a smoker. Lung cancer just happened to choose her.

So if you just found out you have breast cancer, look at the bright side. More than likely, you will survive. And please say a prayer for Melissa who was not so lucky.

Bibliographical reference:
 Chirlaque MD, Salmerón D, Ardanaz E, Galcerán J, Martínez R, Marcos-Grágera R, Sánchez MJ, Mateos A, Torrella A, Capocaccia R, Navarro C. "Cancer survival in Spain: estimate for nine major cancers". Annals of Oncology; 21 Suppl 3:iii21-29, May 2010. DOI: doi:10.1093/annonc/mdq082.

Citation: Disabled World News (2010-07-15) - The probability percentage rate of surviving different types of cancer:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Tutu Project

About The Tutu Project™

The Tutu Project™ began in 2003 as a lark. I mean, really, think of it. Me photographing myself in a pink tutu, how crazy is that?
But nine years ago my wife, Linda, and I moved to the East Coast and, as odd as it may sound it, the self-portraits proved to be a perfect way of expressing myself. Why? Because even though the move was exciting, exhilarating, and inspiring, it was 180 degrees from what I knew. So I took the old, mixed it in with the new, and kept the tutu handy.
Six months after the move, Linda, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She beat it, only to have it recur in 2006. During these past nine years, I’ve been in awe of her power, her beauty, and her spirit. Oddly enough, her cancer has taught us that life is good, dealing with it can be hard, and sometimes the very best thing—no, the only thing—we can do to face another day is to laugh at ourselves, and share a laugh with others.

Enter Ballerina, the book.

Not only is it a collection of my tutu images, it also shares many humorous stories about the adventures of a guy and his pink tulle. So far, there has been a tremendous response to the series of photos—people are particularly moved by the images. And their interest and enthusiasm have made us want to share that experience with as many people as possible in the form of a book, so that we can raise money to help other women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
This autumn, I will self-publish Ballerina. The net proceeds from the sale of the book will go directly to breast cancer organizations, including and the Beth Israel Department of Integrative Medicine Fund, that make significant differences in the lives of women with breast cancer and in the people who love them. Our goal is to raise $75,000. But we need your help to seed the book project so it will take root and grow—and positively affect these families.

Support our Project

Thank you for finding a way to support the much-anticipated Tutu Project. We want you to know how grateful we are. By joining us in this effort, you are making a real difference for women who have to endure far too much.
After years of talking about the project, it’s really happening—and I’m tickled pink.
Bob Carey

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sharon Osbourne Raises Awareness About The BRCA Gene

Sharon Osbourne announced today that she has undergone a double mastectomy after discovering she carries the faulty BRCA gene, which greatly increases the risk of developing breast cancer. Our incredible supporter, Emma Parlons, speaks candidly about her reaction to this news and why she choose the same route as Sharon. Listen again on BBC Radio 5 Live at 1hr 15mins in to the programme.

If you can relate and would like to share your own BRCA story, please contact our press team

Friday, November 2, 2012

Surviving Hurricane Sandy

This has been a hell of a week.  After Hurricane Sandy blasted through Connecticut on Monday, everywhere you go it's utter chaos.  Downed trees tangled up in power lines, yellow tape blocking roads. Houses gouged out by trees, leaving whole rooms exposed. And that's just inland. Get to the shoreline, where my brother lives, and things start to look like a war zone. My brother's home was flooded on Monday night.  On Wednesday I found him, his girlfriend and dog, looking ragged, shell-shocked and cold in their chilly abode. They came to my house to shower and warm up that night, but went back believing they would find things normal again. The clean-up hadn't even begun. With no hope of the power returning anytime soon, they've come back here.

On Tuesday night a colleague of mine stayed overnight here. Thankfully she got her power back last night.  The utility companies are promising Connecticut residents that they will all have their power back by midnight next Monday.  But they also made those deadline promises after Hurricane Irene and Storm Alfred last year and didn't keep them.

I feel like one of the lucky ones. I live on one of the two highest peaks in Shelton. Through the national blackout of 2003 and countless storms, I have not lost power once.  So it's no surprise that my place has become a Hurricane Hotel.  People think I sit up near the clouds overlooking the river--seemingly immune from it all, which is not true. My townhouse community lost 10 trees and one chimney from this storm. I lost my singular front yard tree last year to Hurricane Irene. It just missed destroying my car.

I am just happy that I can keep the people I love safe and warm during this disastrous time that has befallen the Northeast.  I met the niece of a fireman who died tragically in Easton, Connecticut last Monday. They are having the funeral tomorrow. Yeah, I'm one of the lucky ones.

Hurricane Sandy is Proof of Global Warming

Al Gore


On Hurricane Sandy

Posted: 10/30/2012 3:46 pm

This week, our nation has anxiously watched as Hurricane Sandy lashed the East Coast and caused widespread damage -- affecting millions. Now more than ever, our neighbors need our help. Please consider donating or volunteering for your local aid organizations.
The images of Sandy's flooding brought back memories of a similar -- albeit smaller scale -- event in Nashville just two years ago. There, unprecedented rainfall caused widespread flooding, wreaking havoc and submerging sections of my hometown. For me, the Nashville flood was a milestone. For many, Hurricane Sandy may prove to be a similar event: a time when the climate crisis -- which is often sequestered to the far reaches of our everyday awareness became a reality.
While the storm that drenched Nashville was not a tropical cyclone like Hurricane Sandy, both storms were strengthened by the climate crisis. Scientists tell us that by continually dumping 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere every single day, we are altering the environment in which all storms develop. As the oceans and atmosphere continue to warm, storms are becoming more energetic and powerful. Hurricane Sandy, and the Nashville flood, were reminders of just that. Other climate-related catastrophes around the world have carried the same message to hundreds of millions.
Sandy was also affected by other symptoms of the climate crisis. As the hurricane approached the East Coast, it gathered strength from abnormally warm coastal waters. At the same time, Sandy's storm surge was worsened by a century of sea level rise. Scientists tell us that if we do not reduce our emissions, these problems will only grow worse.
Hurricane Sandy is a disturbing sign of things to come. We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis. Dirty energy makes dirty weather.