Thursday, October 29, 2009

In Memory of Stephanie B.

Just found out a few minutes ago that a woman I knew from a breast cancer support message board passed away from the disease this morning. Pictured here, she'd just turned 44 a few months ago and leaves behind two children.

Diagnosed Stage IV in 07, she'd been dealing with metastases to her liver, hips and brain for a while. She fought through almost constant pain, hair and weight loss plus custody battles with her ex over the children in the past year alone. Not only a woman of strong faith (her message board signature was "God is Able"), she was truly a warrior that was taken far too soon.

This effin disease BLOWS.

Although our diagnoses were different (she was triple negative and I'm ER/PR positive), we struck up a fast friendship and often posted to the newbies on the board (particularly African American women who logged on afraid and worried about their own diagnosis) about our treatment, chemo, radiation and reconstruction experiences. About a year ago, she asked me to do her a favor and send some of her posts from the board to her church family when she passed so they would know how important a life-line the board had been for her. I felt extremely honored that she'd asked me.

So, tomorrow, I'll be searching the message board for some of her most poignant posts. I'll get them together and send to her church like she asked me to. I'll send condolences to her family and friends and keep praying that someday soon, nobody will ever again have to lose a friend, mother, sister, aunt or neighbor to this devastating disease.

And on Saturday, I'll be thinking of her as I smash a few boards at a breast cancer fund raiser. REALLY feeling the need to hit something while I think about that pending cure...

Rest in peace, sweet Stephanie. God truly is able...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Surrender the Pink

Each October, I promise myself I'm not going to get too upset by all the pink crap that is seemingly every freaking where. Tried that last year, but it didn't work (seriously - click here to find out why). I remember being so upset in Walmart once - after seeing a pink Parker Pen that donated 1/10 of a percent to BC research - that I thought I was going to lose it. But eventually the month ended and the pink vacuums, soup cans, cookie cutters and water bottles soon disappeared. I guess the idea is that people only can or want to be aware of breast cancer for 31 days - and not a second longer.

About awareness: what the hell is it that we're supposed to be aware of? Before my diagnosis, I knew that young, otherwise healthy women got the disease and died from it because it happened to my mom. I knew that a history of benign breast changes were a huge warning sign for pending breast disease because it happened to my aunt. But although I had two pre-menopausal relatives affected and I'd also had a history of fibrocystic breast disease, I never in a zillion years thought I would ever be diagnosed. So what are we making people aware of each October - that every brand in America can turn a profit if they stick a pink ribbon and some pithy text about hoping for a cure on their label? That's certainly what it seems like.

All the Yo Plait yogurt lids in the world will not keep women from dying of this disease, it seems. 186,000 American women alone will be lost to breast cancer in 2009. Pink products, ribbons and races don't seem to be putting a dent in that number, either.

I'm not saying don't walk/run or buy products that talk about donating to breast cancer research, but I am saying that reading the labels is important. Find out where the money is going (treatment or mammos? cure research or into the pocket of the company CEO?), how much of it is being donated (is it a paltry penny for each $4 you spend? is it capped at $10,000?) or even if it's being donated at all (you'd be surprised at how many pink ribbon products mention nothing about where all the money collected goes). If we don't, the pink parade of stupid products will only get worse, scores more women will be diagnosed and we'll still be wading through the pink sh*t and HOPING for a cure.

I'm also saying this: Enough of the pink stuff. CURE this b*tch already!