Pink Washing Breast Cancer Awareness

Welcome to another Pinktober.

I have expressed my dislike of the pink washing of breast cancer awareness here in the past.  As a woman living with metastatic breast cancer (thankfully in remission) but who continues to receive treatment, I find the “pink washing” mildly to moderately offensive in that companies are capitalizing on a disease that is a daily battle for me.

What I find most frustrating about the pink washing is the complacency many now feel towards breast cancer.  I actually had a woman apologize to me because she thought my breast cancer was just a little thing that could easily be fixed. Not quite, three and a half years later, I am still in treatment:

  • Arimidex pill once per day
  • Herceptin infusion every 3 weeks
  • Lupron shot every 4 weeks

This is the protocol to keep me in remission!

The truth is, the 5 year survival rate for women diagnosed with cancer just in the breast is 99% and that is fantastic.  However, according to Cancer.net, 39% of women are diagnosed with breast cancer beyond the breast, so we have a long way to go before we can call breast cancer just a little thing easily fixed.

My Breast Cancer Story

If you have never heard my breast cancer story, I share how I found my lump and my initial treatment choices in the first 6 minutes of the following video:

It is my sincere wish that you are never touched by breast cancer. However, since 1 in 8 women in the USA are diagnosed with it in their lifetime, chances are, you already have been.

Affordable Care Act Saved My Life

Hi!  My name is Kandas and the Affordable Care Act saved my life!

Yesterday I received my regularly scheduled doses of Herceptin and Lupron to keep that naughty Bertha away.  As I was sitting in the infusion chair, IV drip, drip, dripping protein inhibitors into my bloodstream, I was prompted to share the following message to Facebook:

Today is National Uncle & Aunt Day. Over 30 humans call me “Auntie Kandas”.

Today is also my tri-weekly infusion of Herceptin, the pharmaceutical marvel that is keeping Bertha away.

I am alive today because of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA doesn’t give me free insurance. We pay roughly $10k per year for the privilege of staying alive.

Not everyone can afford $10k per year. Does that mean they are less deserving than me? That their life is any less precious?

Social media trainers tell us not to share about sports, politics, religion or sex on our walls.

I am a rule breaker.

I believe health care should be a right and not a privilege. Compassionate societies care for their citizens.

So I am going to continue to remind anyone who follows me on social media that I owe my life to the Affordable Care Act, in hopes that enough people will feel compelled to tell their Representatives and Senators that this partisan bickering needs to stop. That people are more important than politics.

I am looking forward to more little humans calling me Auntie Kandas… And a couple even calling me Grandma… one day.

The ACA is keeping me alive.

I know these Facebook posts make some of my network uncomfortable, even angry. It’s an inconvenient truth that I will keep sharing. I have an 18-year-old daughter who needs me.

4 Common Myths about High Cholesterol

For over three years now I have been in treatment for metastatic breast cancer.  It is currently in remission, though treatment continues with an Arimidex pill every day, Herceptin infusion every 3 weeks, and Lupron shot every 4 weeks.  I’ve shared in the past that the treatments have elevated my cholesterol levels.  I choose to use lower cholesterol without statins simply because I already take enough drugs, I don’t need to add another.

There are a lot of myths that surround the high cholesterol health condition. These myths are passed on through TV shows, through old books, even through out-of-date biology curricula.

Today’s leading health and science research has shown us that a lot of what we used to know about cholesterol simply isn’t true.

Here are a few of the most common high cholesterol myths.

Eggs Are Bad for Your Cholesterol Level

The health community used to recommend avoiding eggs due to their high dietary cholesterol levels. With over 200 mgs of cholesterol, it only makes sense that someone who wants to lower their cholesterol should avoid eggs – right?

Not so. Today, we know that only a tiny fraction of dietary cholesterol actually ends up in the blood stream. Eggs are actually a healthy source of proteins and contain twelve different kinds of vitamins and minerals.

It’s still not good to overdo it, but a couple of eggs a week won’t hurt.

There Is an “Ideal” Cholesterol Number

People often look for a target cholesterol number, as if there were a global ideal that’s right for everyone.

In reality, however, everyone’s body is a bit different. A smoker’s target LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels are different from a non-smoker’s. A diabetic’s target levels are different from a non-diabetic’s. So on and so forth.

Before you look online for “ideal” target levels, consult your doctor to get a target number tailored specifically for you.

Cholesterol Is Evil

Cholesterol is actually a necessary part of your body’s everyday processes. It helps line various kinds of cells in your body, including your all-important brain cells. Cholesterol also helps give cells more structural integrity.

To make a long story short, our bodies wouldn’t be able to function without cholesterol.

It’s only when LDL cholesterol levels get too high that we’re in trouble because of it.

Only the Elderly Get High Cholesterol

Another common myth is that high cholesterol is an issue mostly for the elderly.

In reality, kids as young as eight years old have been diagnosed with high cholesterol. This tends to happen in overweight, obese or sedentary kids.

Though it’s true that the rate of high cholesterol does go up with age, just because you’re younger doesn’t mean you’re safe. Make sure to get your cholesterol count from your doctor in your annual check-up, even if you’re under 30 years old.

These are a few of the most common myths that surround high cholesterol. Remember that medical information changes often as new research and data are discovered. The best source of information about high cholesterol should always come from a trusted doctor, and not through friends, family or even the internet

Listen, Clear, Travel | 3 Words for 2016

2016 has been a fantastic year for me personally.

For my blog, not so much.

At the beginning of the year, I outlined over a dozen blog posts intending to finish and schedule them weekly.

Great plans for my 30 Women Who Mean Business series, and inspirational metastatic breast cancer updates, as well as, relationship marketing advice fell to the wayside as I lived my incredible life.

Those unfinished blog posts are still sitting in my editorial calendar queue, like this gem from January:


It’s My Birthday! | 3 Words for 2016

Friday, January 15th, was my 46th birthday.  I spent over 6 hours pole dancing, or rather connected to an IV Pole.  I pole dance every three weeks.  Good times.  Knowing the chemo is working makes it easier.

Pole Dancing on my Birthday

Pole Dancing on my Birthday

My Three Words for 2016

Listen

I am listening to a biography of Elon Musk.  Musk runs Telsa Motors, and Space X.  He is a co-founder of PayPal which netted Musk $165 million when eBay purchased the online payment solution.  Musk divides his time between Tesla Motors in Silicon Valley and Space X in Los Angeles.  To maximize his time, he listens first, and advises second.

Listening more and talking less.  Yup, that’s a good thing.  I’m working on being a better listener.

Clear

My office, intentions, and PET scans will all be clearer in 2016.

Travel

I love to travel:  camping, resorts, road trips, discovering new places, people and things.   Unfortunately, it has been years since we have taken a vacation. That will be remedied this year.


Living My 3 Words

I’m not sure why it has taken so long to hit “publish” on this post. Perhaps, I felt it needed more. January seems like a life-time ago. Good thing publishing this 3 Words 2016 blog post wasn’t necessary to manifest the intentions.

While I haven’t been blogging as much as I like, I have lived my three words.

I can’t say I am the best listener in the world, but I am consciously working on it.

My office is still a hot mess but I have so much more clarity in my intentions. And by gosh, by golly, my scans have been clear all year! Hallelujah.

Clear scans meant those travel plans could proceed! And boy did they!

Over the summer we visited 8 colleges in 12 days, helping our daughter narrow down her choices to 4 exceptional schools that are a good fit for her personal and educational goals. Last month my husband and I took a road trip to Salt Lake City for a technology convention visiting Las Vegas, Zion National Park, and the breathtaking beauty that is Southern Utah along the I-70 corridor. Even better, we are now making plans for a summer 2017 trip to Cancun.

Yup, 2016 has been a fantastic year!

Zion National Park. Photo Credit: Shane Rodarte

Zion National Park. Photo Credit: Shane Rodarte

Top 10 Breast Cancer Myths According to Dana-Farber

It’s October.

For many Americans, that means Columbus Day (a 3-day weekend for many), decorating for Fall, and stocking up on candy for trick-or-treaters.

For many, October also means breast cancer awareness and the pink-washing of America.

I will share my thoughts on the whole pink thing in a future post.

Despite bringing awareness to, and opening up dialogues about, the disease, Breast Cancer Awareness Month has yet to quell a myriad of myths women believe.  I must admit, until I read this recent article on the Dana-Farber blog, I believed a few of them myself.

Top 10 Breast Cancer Myths

  1. Breast Lump = Cancer
  2. If a lump is painful, it is not cancer.
  3. Only older women get breast cancer. (I was diagnosed at age 44, my sister at age 42.)
  4. Most breast cancer is hereditary. (Neither my sister, nor myself, carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.)
  5. Deodorant/antiperspirant causes breast cancer. (Well, snap. I believed this myth.)
  6. Men don’t get breast cancer. (Oh, but they do!)
  7. You should avoid sugar and soy if you have breast cancer. (This myth makes me feel very uncomfortable as I have written about sugar in the past. I love tofu but have seriously limited my intake of soy because of it’s estrogen-like properties.  Sorry Dana-Farber, I’m going to have to continue to my research into this one.)
  8. Self-screening is the most important factor in early diagnosis.  (Umm…  keep on self-screening, people.  It’s how I found Bertha.)
  9. Exposing the tumor to air during surgery can cause cancer to spread.  (To quote the adorable lemur from the Madagascar movies:  “How is that even possible?”)
  10. A mastectomy is the best therapy.

See the full article with infographic on the Dana-Farber blog:

Ten Myths About Breast Cancer [Infographic]

A Step-by-Step Guide to Offering Nutritional Advice for Cancer Patients

Your friend, loved-one, business associate, co-worker is a cancer patient.

You know, we all know, that proper nutrition during cancer treatment is so very important.  Chemotherapy, radiation, immuno-therapy, hormone-therapy all cause a great toll on even the healthiest of bodies.

You’ve heard about a herb, vitamin, tea, or fruit that may help.  Should you tell the patient?

How to Offer Nutritional Advice for Cancer Patients

Here is a simple 3-step approach to offering nutritional advice for cancer patients:

  • Step 1:  Did the patient ask for advice?
    • No?  Do not offer any advice to the patient.
    • Yes?  Go to Step 2
  • Step 2:  Are you a licensed nutritionist, dietitian, physician, or other medical practitioner?
    • No?  Do not offer any advice to the patient.
    • Yes?  Go to Step 3.
  • Step 3:  Suggest the patient discuss your nutritional advice with their oncologist.

Bottom line, drugs can have interactions with foods, supplements and herbs.  Nutritional changes need careful monitoring and educated guidance by the prescribing oncologist.

Do This Instead

I must admit, before my cancer journey began, I probably gave unwelcome and unsolicited advice freely.

Now that I am walking the path, I am doing my own due diligence and discussing complimentary therapies with my oncologist openly.  Thus far, he has approved of everything I’ve added after my own careful research.  I recommend the book Radical Remission for patients who wish to add complimentary therapies to their cancer treatment.

To my dear friends and family whom have offered nutritional advice to me, please know that I understand you were doing so from a place of love, and I do appreciate you.

If you want to help a cancer patient, try this list of 18 Gifts for Someone Going Through Chemo or Radiation.

Spread the Word

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How to Offer Nutritional Advice to Cancer Patients

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Breast Cancer Survivor Called Pervert for Using Women’s Restroom

Deena Lotridge is a double mastectomy breast cancer survivor. Her friends call her a hero for the way she has shined brightly during her journey through cancer. After losing it to chemo, her hair is growing back, and is still rather short.

With everything she has gone through, using a public women’s restroom should be the least of Deena’s worries.

However, the recent attention to the transgender bathroom debate has resulted in unexpected consequences.  Take for instance the Texas man who followed a woman into the bathroom to check her gender.

Deena, with her short, dirty blonde locks, showed great dignity when verbally accosted during a recent visit to the women’s restroom in an Altoona, Pennsylvania mall:

Deena Lotridge was called Pervert for using Womens Bathroom after Double Mastectomy

Deena Lotridge called Pervert for using Women’s Bathroom

Here is the text if you can’t read the screenshot:

My Husband and I went shopping for a few things today in Altoona. Went to the mall for lunch, pizza. and I used the restroom before we ate. I was called a PERVERT for using the lades room!! I was amazed!! I told this woman I was in the proper restroom and she called me a pervert again. So I told her again I was where I was to be.. she got really nasty so I lifted my shirt and said….. SEE …. I told her not to judge what she didn’t know or even understand and that I hope she never had to face cancer and have body parts removed…
What is worse.. this isn’t the first time, but the first time someone was so nasty!
What a world we live in now… SMH

I agree with her friends, Deena Lotridge is a hero.

All is well,
Kandas

Surviving Cancer

Today is National Cancer Survivors Day®.

“National Cancer Survivors Day® is a CELEBRATION for those who have survived, an INSPIRATION for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of SUPPORT for families, and an OUTREACH to the community.” – NCSD.org

The other day, I came across a rather bitter, anger-filled blog post criticizing the movement for excluding those whose disease has metastasized.

I, too, have struggled with the term “cancer survivor.”  Like the author, I am living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC).

For the most part, I am not inclined to be angry about cancer.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all roses and sunshine, and I have had my share of melt-downs. If I listed some of the crazy things I’ve said or done in the past 26 months, those who know me might be surprised. Living with MBC is not easy, and every once in a while it is okay to not be strong, show vulnerability, and ask for help.

MBC is considered a terminal illness and treated by the medical community as a chronic disease. It is a life-long journey for which the cure has yet to be found.

So, back to the term “cancer survivor.” Can it include those with metastatic disease?

Here is what surviving cancer means to me:

Celebrating each and every day.
Acting upon opportunities.
Noticing miracles.
Creating experiences.
Embracing love and compassion.
Relishing life.

Survive is a verb, and verbs depict action. I choose being an active participant in my life. I choose to survive.

Survive is a verb, and verbs depict action. #nationalcancersurvivorsday Click To Tweet

Namaste!
Kandas

P.S. – I’d love to read your thoughts on surviving cancer. Please do share in the comments.

Surviving Cancer by Kandas Nesbitt-Rodarte. Use Granted with Credit. and Link to GratitudeGeek.info.

Surviving Cancer by Kandas Nesbitt-Rodarte. Use Granted with Credit and Link to GratitudeGeek.info.