#MyLeftBoob #BreastCancer Chronicles: What Mark Will You Leave?

Forgive me followers, for I have sinned. It’s been six months since my last confession and me and #MyLeftBoob have been super busy! I recently opened up a new children’s art studio and relaunched my CT Buzz Media business all in the last two months! I’ve received several emails recently from people asking me if everything is okay? Am I still here? Am I still “good?” Yes, I am still here and I’m trying my best to be “good,” but I have been in a lot of pain….and to a lot of doctors.  More on that later….

hosp velvetThis photo was taken last month in the elevator of Danbury Hospital after getting the “all clear” from my Radiologist! I go to both Sloan Kettering and Danbury Hospital to be double sure that the evil C word remains at bay!

For those just joining me, I’m a survivor of a very rare and aggressive type of breast cancer called Metaplastic Carcinoma (MpBC). On January 28, 2015, I found a lump while dying my hair. Nobody in my family has had cancer, I’m not a smoker and was low risk but I still got cancer….not from anything I did or ate or inherited (because if that was true why didn’t anyone else in my family get it?), just because people get cancer. It happens. And this type? They don’t know much about it. It was only recently discovered in 2000 and is often times chemo resistant. Not a lot of clinical trials have been done so yes, it’s pretty scary.

 

On Feb. 4, 2015, World Cancer Day, after a whirlwind week of biopsies, mammograms, ultrasounds, blood work and testing, my doctor told me, over the phone, that the lump I found in my left breast was cancer. Cue feeling of being kicked in the gut, having the breath knocked out of you.

On Feb. 17, 2015 I had the first of two lumpectomies to remove the 2 cm. tumor (stage 2a, then later changed to stage 1b). I thought I’d only have to have surgery and radiation and be done, but after the biopsy my doctor told me I had a “very rare and aggressive type of cancer only 1% of women are diagnosed with called ‘Metaplastic Carcinoma.’” Not only that, I’m also Triple Negative which only occurs in 15% of women— double whammy. Both of these types have a higher recurrence rate than other cancers and require very aggressive treatment and careful follow-up.

This February 17th will be three years since they took the cancer out of me and the day I will hopefully celebrate three years being cancer free. Why do I say “hopefully?” Because tomorrow I go to Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York for a bone scan and hopefully I will get good results. Hopefully they will tell me this terrible pain I’ve been feeling in my back, elbows, knees, knuckles, collarbone and even my toes, is just early onset arthritis from red devil (ACT) chemo after effects and nothing more. I never thought I’d pray to get a painful disease like arthritis, but it’s better than the alternative.

I write this blog post at 2:00 a.m. when I should be sleeping. But, as many cancer survivors and patients know, sometimes it’s impossible to stop the crippling thoughts from swirling around in your brain.

I write this feeling guilty that I’m having a bit of a pity party from this ongoing pain after learning today that one of my fellow cancer warriors has gone up in glory after a brave fight. Every time this happens, there have been about six in the three years I’ve been on this roller coaster ride, I get a panic attack and can’t sleep. I feel awful that another family has to live without their loved one who was so good, so kind, so full of life and faith when there are criminals, murderers and pedophiles walking the streets. It’s so unfair. I wonder why them and not me? I don’t have an answer but when I receive letters like the ones below, I know I am here for a purpose.

 

 

“Hello Wendy. My name is Hxxxxx. Hope this email finds you well and stronger than ever. 8 months ago my mother died from metaplastic breast cancer at the age of 43. I came across your blog while I’m in bed unable to sleep, thinking of my mom and her illness. She gave a good fight. But still couldn’t help to find out if they found something out there to treat women like her, as she was chemo resistant to various types of treatment. 
What I’m trying to say is, as soon as I read some of your words I could not help but email you and make sure you’re doing okay, still strong and that you are an inspiration to your family and all the people around you. God bless you.” 
TEARS.
I am so sorry for your loss and will try my best to be an inspiration to those around me, H. I really appreciate the reminder. I hope that you find the answers that you need and the ones that give you some sense of peace. Rest assured, there are doctors and scientists working hard to find out more about this awful disease and in the meantime I will do my best to play a part by being the voice of those who can no longer speak.
“My momma was diagnosed on 10/23/17. My mom has TNMpBC, double bi lateral mastectomy stage 2a. I am looking for a group of women who have gone through this treatment since there is little information. Could you share your treatment plan and stage with me? I am still in shock and worried. Everything I have been reading says the cancer can come back within the first 5 years.”

MORE TEARS.

Yes, it can come back. “Metaplastic” means “change in form” and that’s why when people ask me what my treatment was and question why I “just” had two lumpectomies as one shamanic “healer” recently said, I explain to them that even if I had a mastectomy, it can still come back to the lungs, skin and/or bones.

Yes, I just had five surgeries, just 16 weeks of dose dense red devil chemo, just had to lose all my hair, tell my kids and family, just felt nauseous 24/7, on the verge of death, like I had the flu and got hit by a Mack truck at the same time— or four months straight, followed by just 30 rounds of radiation treatment, just lots of pain and tons of complications and live with the PTSD, early onset menopause, early onset arthritis, surgery pain and other pain that follows. Yup. That’s all. Easy peasy! For a shamanic healer, this woman was far from intuitive.

And the biggest side effect of them all— fear of recurrence. And that is why I am wide awake at 2:38 a.m. because these are the thoughts that keep me up at night, on the eve of my bone scan.

When I told family and a few friends I’ve been going through this they were shocked and asked why have I not been talking about it? Because it stinks. It ruins my day and keeps me in bed sometimes until late in the day because it literally hurts to get up. I don’t want to complain (who wants to hear it?) but I feel like I’ve been stuck in this place for so long and just want to get on with my life, stop being in pain, stop having anxiety attacks, lose the weight, feel good enough to exercise and be able to sleep normally again.

This blog was always supposed to be inspirational and going through what I’ve been going through, I could not find a way to be inspiring, so that is why I haven’t written. But now, after the letters I received, I’m being real with the hope that someone reading this will be helped by my “laying it all out on the table,” so they won’t feel so alone….like how I felt when none of my nurses at Danbury Hospital had ever heard of MpBC….and the American Cancer Society couldn’t find anyone on the eastern side of the U.S. who had it….and how I felt like the only one….until I found a great support group.  I hope that if you have MpBC that you will find this blog educational, inspirational, funny (sorry, not today, but soon!) and helpful.

After dealing with horrible people and difficult situations this past week, while the rest of my social media news feed was busy bashing the president, bashing each other’s social media groups, bashing my new art studio I just opened two months ago (because they didn’t like the “idea” of paint night- like I invented it?), while business owners were busy badmouthing each other and/or trying to steal each other’s customers and their competitor’s ideas, there were people busy fighting for my life…..and dealing with this pain….and worrying about this next test tomorrow (now today).

I don’t know if it’s me losing patience for people because I have stared death in the face and realized that life is way too short for arguments, always having to be “right” and too much negativity, or if people are just much more cranky and argumentative lately, but in the last six months I’ve lost friends and family members over seemingly stupid stuff and have learned that’s okay.

I’ve learned that I can’t wait around for things to get done, or money to come, or people to catch up with me on the great business idea I have, or expansion plans. I have learned to rely on my faith, myself and immediate family only. In the end it’s all that matters. That and the legacy you leave when it’s your time. When people speak your name will they say you were sarcastic, competitive or argumentative or “someone you wouldn’t want to cross?” What mark will you leave?

When someone speaks my name will they remember me as a breast cancer and children’s advocate? As someone who lived to help others through the power of the arts and through my writing? As someone who tried my best to set a good example and pass on my love of service to my kids? I certainly hope so. And hope it won’t be until the ripe old age of 102 with three kids, their spouses and 13 grandchildren at my Thanksgiving table.

So if you happen to think of it at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, EST, feel free to send up some prayers and positive vibes that the bone scan will come back all clear and for wisdom for the doctors to know next steps to take to help me get over this hurdle and keep moving forward.

In the words of Maria Fowler’s army of MpBC advocates….

“Stay Strong. Stay Positive.
Keep Searching. Be Hopeful.”

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Metaplastic Carcinoma (MpBC), try not to panic and definitely don’t check “Dr. Google.” There is a lot of outdated info on there with alarming statistics. I know women who are surviving and thriving ten years later and that’s what what I focus on. And here I am almost three years out, almost “home free.”

The biggest thing I’ve learned though all of this is that everyone’s cancer is different. It depends on what stage, the person’s type, if it spread (mine didn’t, thankfully) and a number of other factors.

Ask your oncologist to help find you a support group for people with MpBC or join one on Facebook here. (You can only join if you have MpBC or are related to, or a caregiver for someone who does.)

I also recommend checking out the Metaplastic Breast Cancer Foundation’s website, started by the wonderful Maria Fowler who I had the pleasure of knowing and who helped me tremendously when I was first diagnosed, but sadly, lost her life due to this horrible disease.

May Maria, Suzette and the rest of the Metaplastic Breast Cancer angels’ spirits live on in those of us with “boots on the ground,” dedicated and determined to keep fighting the good fight.

Peace.

~Wendy 🙂

wendyannmitchell@live.com

 

Warrior Wendy Prepares to Slay Evil Demons #MyLeftBoob

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Photo by Gabrielle Siegel

Now that I have returned back to work, I won’t have as much time to update my blog. This update is from my GoFundMe page. Please share with anyone you know who is currently fighting this battle or with those whose lives have been affected by cancer:

Wendy’s Triple Negative Metaplastic Cancer Battle

http://www.gofundme.com/myleftboob

If only I could slay the C-word with the huge pike (pictured) this whole process would be so much easier! You may be wondering why I am holding a large medieval weapon. It’s because I’m a member of Danbury’s Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians and marched in the St. Patricks’ Day parade last Sunday.

Generally the men hold the weapons but they let me hold it for a minute for a photo op. The weapons represent overcoming oppression that the Irish experienced. For me, this pike figuratively represents the army of demons I have to slay to throughout this battle.

The first demon I slayed was “the suspicious lump” that turned out to be breast cancer. But not the “normal” breast cancer that 80% of women get. Don’t get me wrong, ALL cancer is wicked and evil and horrible and hard to deal with. But mine just happens to be harder because only 1% of women get this and so little is known about it. And it has a higher chance of coming back. BUT I am only Stage 1, it HAS NOT spread and that is what I am focusing on.

The next demons I fought off were the 2 additional worrisome lumps that turned out to be a swollen lymph node and a sebaceous cyst. Waiting for days for results is tough but I’m so grateful that it turned out to be “nothing to worry about.”

Next on the war tour was a year’s worth of tooth issues being treated in one month. Unfortunately I’ve already used up all of my dental insurance for the year (and it’s only March) with 5 dental appointments since February, so that is why I have this site up, because the medical bills related to this cancer battle seem to be never-ending.

I write this as I sit here with an ice pack on my cheek to help with the swelling of a tooth that was pulled yesterday. Don’t worry- I don’t look like a hillbilly, it was just a back molar. It has to be extracted due to “an advanced infection that has been there for quite some time and has gone into the bone.” I just had dental work done in the beginning of February and, according to the last dentist I went to, somehow it was missed. At least it is taken care of now.

My choices were to get a root canal and have to wait 6 -12 weeks for the infection to clear OR get it pulled and wait 2 weeks. The choice was easy. Generally after surgery the doctors want to wait 4 weeks before starting chemo. But then I got a skin infection. The day that cleared up I found out I have a tooth infection.

So as you can see this battle has not been an easy one but I feel confident because I am fully equipped with my weapons of mass destruction:

1. A positive attitude
2. An incredible husband and children
3. An amazing support system of family & friends
4. Knowledgeable, compassionate doctors
5. Cancer killing medicines
6. Help with my new diet to keep cancer cells away

Next up on the agenda:
*4/2 – sign papers to move forward with treatment
*4/6 – port placement for chemo
*4/9 – first chemo treatment

Thank you so much for your support. I know I will win this battle and when I am done I will continue to battle and raise awareness of this awful disease to support my fellow cancer warrior sisters who are still fighting.

~Wendy 🙂

CLICK HERE TO DONATE
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IF YOU’RE JUST JOINING ME, thanks for reading, here is my story:

I am a 45-years-young Mom of 3 amazing kids, a one-year-old black Lab rescue puppy and an incredible husband of 20+ years. I sing, play bass and am the editor for an online group of news websites.

I found out on 2/4, World Cancer Day, the same day doctors told me my teenage son would be okay after life-threatening emergency appendix/intestinal surgery, that I have breast cancer. They originally said it was Invasive Ductal Cancer (IDC), a very common, highly treatable cancer. My prognosis was good. I had a lumpectomy on 2/17 and I thought I’d have surgery, do 6 weeks of radiation and then be done and ready to rock.

I thought wrong. My doctor told me on 2/23 that I actually have Triple Negative Metaplastic Carcinoma. This is a very rare and aggressive type of cancer. Triple Negative only occurs in 15-20% of women and Metaplastic is extremely rare, only occuring in 1% of women compared to Invasive Ductal which occurs in 80%.

The good news is that it has not spread to my lymph nodes. I am only Stage 1. The bad news is that this type of cancer can come back and spread to other parts of the body (bones, skin, lungs, etc.) so I will need to monitor it closely. I will need lifelong care and this is something I will always have to deal with.

As soon as I found my lump (oddly while dying my red hair), I knew that my cancer diagnosis had to be about something much more than just me. I was low risk, no family history and get a mammogram each year. But I still got cancer. So I began an awareness campaign on my blog:

http://www.wendipoprock.wordpress.com

I did this to remind people to do monthly self breast exams. Through posting selfies of their clothed left boob, and using the hash tag #MyLeftBoob, dozens of women and men are helping me remind people of the life-saving importance of doing monthly self breast exams.

Because my cancer is an aggressive kind, treatment will be aggressive. I’ll be doing chemotherapy beginning in early April. I’ll lose my fiery red hair, dark eyebrows and long eyelashes. But I won’t lose my sense of humor, inner strength or fighting spirit.

The best thing I can do now to get better is to eat healthy, get lots of rest and stay calm. Part of keeping stress levels down will be not worrying about all the bills piling up since my son’s surgery (his 3rd in 3 years) which are now adding on to mine. My husband has a high deductible insurance plan that we have to pay before it kicks in. Then there are the prescriptions, the treatment (many months chemotherapy followed by radiation), a special cancer killing homeopathic diet plan, chiropractor bills (I also have 3 herniated discs in my neck) and other expenses related to my illness such as housecleaning, travel and wigs. Wigs are expensive!

For the past 15 years I have volunteered thousands of hours to church groups, community groups, arts groups and many more organizations through volunteerism. In 2012 after the tragedy of 12/14 in Sandy Hook, I helped my hometown heal by founding the Sandy Hook Arts Center for Kids (SHACK).

Through art, music and pet therapy we ran free events and classes so children, youth and families could heal through the arts. I donated thousands to pay overhead expenses when the donations stopped. I did this gladly because I felt this was the least I could do to help.

Whether you want to call it good karma or reaping what you sow, I’m hoping that the good I’ve put out over the years will come back to help me and my family in our time of need. Any amount you can spare will be so greatly appreciated.

I will fight as hard as humanly possible. And when I’m done I will call upon divine inner strength from above to fight for me the rest of the battle. And I will win. I will stay positive and keep my sense of humor. Read more on my blog- http://www.wendipoprock.wordpress.com

Will you join my fight?

Thank you for reading my story and for your donation. Please share if you know someone whose life has been touched by cancer.

Peace,
~Wendy Mitchell

Follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @WendiPopRock

I Have Not One, But Two Scary #BreastCancer Diagnoses and Feel Like I’ve Been Diagnosed All Over Again…

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“The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.” 

~Mignon McLaughlin

It’s hard enough to be diagnosed with cancer at the age of 45 when no one in my family has had it and I get routine mammograms every year. Then on top of that to be told you have Triple Negative, a rare and aggressive type of cancer with a higher chance of recurrence. Then, as if those two things were not enough, you’re told that you also have Metaplastic Carcinoma.

I don’t know why it took me two-and-a-half weeks to process this information, but I just realized today that I have been diagnosed with not one scary thing, but TWO. I have Triple Negative, which is only found in 15-20% of women with breast cancer AND I also have Metaplastic Carcinoma which is only found in 1% of women with breast cancer. ONE percent.

Not even a nurse at one of the biggest cancer centers on the East Coast has heard of this. “You mean metastatic” she asked me when I called to speak with the doctor today after an emotional breakdown. “No, it’s called Metaplastic.  Metastatic is Stage 4. I only have Stage 1 but it is called Metaplastic and only found in 1% of women with breast cancer.” Yes, I was actually educating the nurse on this rare disease.

To say that I feel like I was kicked in the gut upon realization of this is putting it mildly. The reason it struck me now is because I found another lump, my third in less than a month, under my left arm today. I was Googling, which you should never do, while waiting for the doctor to call back and stumbled upon some disturbing information about Metaplastic Carcinoma. The doctor said the lump is probably a swollen lymph node like the last one they found last Wednesday, but my PET Scan was clear, so I “shouldn’t worry”…..easier said than done.

Triple Negative means that the cancerous tumor, which they cut out of me on Feb. 17,  is Estrogen, Progesterone and HER2 negative. Triple Negative can’t be treated with “normal” hormone suppressing medication because the cancer is not fueled by hormones. (Cancer.net)

Metaplastic Carcinoma is a type of cancer. There are women that have Metaplastic Carcinoma that are not Triple Negative but 90% of women with Metaplastic are Triple Negative as well. Metaplastic is not to be confused with Metastatic. Metastatic is Stage 4 cancer. Mine is only Stage 1. Metaplastic is a completely different type. No wonder my brain did not accept all of this information at once when I was told on Feb. 23. It is all a lot to take in and very overwhelming.

A woman in one of my support groups said that her oncologist told her the survival rate for Metaplastic Breast Cancer (MBC) is the same as for other types of breast cancers so that’s what I need to focus on.

I’ve been told I will have good days and bad days…today was definitely a very bad day. I don’t feel positive or strong or brave. I feel alone and frustrated because I don’t have a lot of information. I was also told I have every right to feel these feelings and so I won’t feel bad even though one person told me I am being “negative.” One out of 100 that said I am “positive, strong, brave and inspiring.”
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And also- Really? You try being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive life-threatening illness and tell me how positive you feel 100% of the time. You try staying calm and putting on a happy face in front of your kids. You try finding three lumps in less than a month and tell me how positive and calm you feel. You try thinking about being injected with a powerful poison, losing ALL of your hair for a year, feeling exhausted and sick and tell me how super-dee-duper you feel…..with 5 dental visits in one month, 6 cavities and once tooth extraction thrown in for good measure. You try dealing with the fact that you will lose three or more months of income because your medical leave doesn’t cover this long of a treatment period. I think one bad day out of 51 since finding the lump is pretty good. That means I have been positive 99% of the time….if my math is correct….but my brain huts now so I can’t think about it too much.
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I asked my doctor is she has ever treated anyone with Triple Negative, she said yes, many. I asked her if she has ever treated anyone with Metaplastic Carcinoma. She said yes. She also told me that I should “try to relax and get off the internet for the weekend.”
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I am going to listen to my doctor’s advice. I am also going to focus on the good– that it was caught early and it has not spread.  I am going to go to church. I am going to binge-watch a bunch of Disney movies, spend time with my family and prepare for my next treatments…..
  • Port placement for chemo, one-day surgery, Monday, April 6
  • First chemotherapy, Thursday, April 9, every other week for 16 weeks
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“The most important thing in illness is never to lose heart.” ~Nikolai Lenin
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Photo: Alan Barry Photography

Hair Today, Bald Tomorrow… Will #MyLeftBoob Rob My #Femininity? Heck No!

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This was taken on the veranda of a hotel in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 1990. I was 20 and while my hair looked fabulous, I definitely had a “bitchy resting face.” This was one of the few times in my life that I was actually having a “good hair day.”

Society places so much power in people’s hair. So much of our self-esteem, beauty and femininity is wrapped up in “good” or “bad” hair. We see it on TV, in magazines, plastered all over billboards; beautiful women with long, luxurious hair.

In Biblical times, Sampson’s strength came from his long hair and when it was gone he was just an ordinary person. In fairy tales, Rapunzel lets down her long hair so her lover can visit her and rescue her up in the tower. And in Greek mythology, the goddess Athena was jealous of Medusa’s beauty and turned her into a monster with snakes for hair.

In modern times, Sinead O’Connor and Britney Spears were both scorned when they decided to take the shocking “F.U. everyone” step to shave it all off. And soon, I will join them in the “bald is beautiful club.” But I won’t be going bald to make a political or religious statement. My hair is being taken from me, against my will….because of cancer. It is not a choice. But what I can choose is my attitude about it.

With all of the scary, uncomfortable procedures a cancer patient will face, losing their hair is the hardest for many. I was told by a lot of women who went through this that I should cut my hair very short so that when it begins falling out, about two weeks after the first treatment, it will be less traumatic. I haven’t had short hair since I was a teenager.

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This is my niece and I when I was 16 and rocked the bi-level Madonna-wannabe new wave look.

I think my teenage daughter is having a harder time at the thought of me losing my hair than I am. We were looking at pixie undercut hairstyles online recently and she said, “Do you have to get it cut that short? Right before my party?” We’re celebrating her birthday two months early so that I can feel good and we can be “normal” before I begin chemo. I had an appointment scheduled for next Friday but after seeing her reaction to such a huge change, I’ve decided to wait to get my haircut until after her birthday party so I can still look “normal” to her and her friends. She’s 14 and at that age looks are everything.

On April 1st I will begin my first of 8 chemotherapy treatments over the course of 16 weeks for Triple Negative breast cancer. I’m really not looking forward to the “chemo curls” I’ve begun to hear so much about. As I wrote in my last post, I’ve always had a hate-hate relationship with my curls. My hair never feathered like Farrah Fawcett’s in the late 70’s and I could never get that roller skating queen feathered-back look in the 80’s because my hair was always naturally curly.

When I learned I had Triple Negative breast cancer I joined an online support group because I had a hard time finding anyone with this rare type of cancer. Women were  joking about their new “chemo curls.” I had no idea what this was. They explained that chemotherapy attacks the cancer cells and the cells responsible for hair growth which is why it falls out. Chemo damages the hair shaft and the cells that determine hair texture which is what causes the chemo curls.

While breast cancer robs so many women of their breasts, their hair, some of their friends and sadly, sometimes their lives, I refuse to allow cancer to steal my femininity. And it won’t take my life. I am Stage 1 and it has not spread. It will be a hard battle but one I will fight with strength, dignity and sass. There will be some physical changes, including the loss of my hair, but nobody and no disease can steal my fighting spirit, inner strength or femininity.

There are other ways a woman can look and feel feminine besides just having beautiful hair. She can have a smart brain,  a beautiful  spirit and a pure heart. A little makeup, a flouncy skirt and some heels can’t hurt either.

Top 10 Amazingly Weird Things You Didn’t Know About #Cancer from #MyLeftBoob

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Are these those newfangled fake eyebrows? Wigs for your face? She’ll never tell….

Did you know they make wigs for eyebrows? Me neither. But it turns out I may need some one day. In the last month I have learned so much about cancer, my patience level and strength. I didn’t learn this at Cancer 101 class. No, I am a self-taught cancer connoisseur. I learned by being thrown into the fire, not by choice, by force.

And here I share with you the top 10 amazingly weird things I’ve learned so far in the last five weeks since finding out that I have Triple Negative breast cancer.

Did You Know There is Such a Thing As….

#10 Chemo Brain

Since being diagnosed, I’ve been extremely forgetful and sometimes feel like I’m in mental fog. If I ask my kids something I just asked them a few hours earlier, they can’t understand why I’ve already forgotten the answer. And I do weird things like put the milk in the pantry or put the car keys in the fridge. The American Cancer Society describes chemo brain as “mental cloudiness…. before, during, and after cancer treatment. Research shows that some cancer drugs can cause certain kinds of changes in the brain….that can cause thinking and memory problems in people with cancer.”

#9 Cancer Rubber Neckers

These are people who slow down and turn around to watch every gory detail of your accident but don’t get out of the car to see if you need any help. They don’t offer to call 9-1-1 or ask if you’re okay. They just stop, glare and slowly move on. Then they tell everyone in town the horrible, sad story. If they have the misfortune to see you in public they say things like, “Oh, yeah, I saw your accident….” and then there’s that awkward pause.

#8 Boob Pillows

When you get a lumpectomy the nurses may give you a cute little pillow to place under your breast to help relieve some of the pressure. Mine says “Love” on it and was hand-made by some local high school students. After the pain finally went away three weeks after my surgery, I still find myself sleeping with that cute, comforting little pillow, even though I don’t technically “need” it anymore.

#7 Celebrity Wig Lines for Cancer Patients

You too can look like Raquel Welsh! Even with grey skin, sunken cheeks, no eyebrows or eyelashes, a weak frail body and no hair! All you need is $800 – 1,3000 for one of her fancy shmancy wigs! Oh and maybe some fake eyelashes and some makeup and some high cheekbones and some…..

#6 Eyebrow Wigs

Until I began searching for regular wigs and fake eyelashes online (because I heard mine may fall out), I had no idea that there was such a thing as eyebrow wigs. Many are made with human hair and are available in all different shapes and colors. They’re applied with adhesive or stick-on tape, depending on the cost and quality, and can last up to seven days once applied. Prices range from $30-150.

#5 Chemo Curls

This one threw me for a loop. I’ve always had a hate-hate relationship with my curls. My hair never feathered like Farrah Fawcett’s in the late 70’s and I could never get that roller skating queen feathered-back look in the 80’s because my hair was always naturally curly. For the last few years I’ve straightened it with a flat-iron but noticed recently, before I knew I had cancer, that it wasn’t growing. So, reluctantly I let it go back to its natural state of curliness.

When I learned I had Triple Negative breast cancer I joined an online support group because I had a hard time finding anyone with this rare type of cancer. Women were posting pictures of their bald heads before and after chemo and joking about their new “chemo curls.” I had no idea what this was. They explained that chemotherapy attacks the cancer cells and the cells responsible for hair growth which is why it falls out. Chemo damages the hair shaft and the cells that determine hair texture which is what causes the chemo curls.

#4 Cancer One-Uppers

Some people will try to “one-up” you with their sad story, even if it is not cancer related. I recently spent a good hour trying to explain to a woman why I needed financial assistance for my treatment for this life-threatening illness….that my husband has a high deductible health plan, that my son just spent five days in the hospital for emergency appendix and intestinal surgery….that he works two jobs, 70-80 hours a week but we still can’t afford our medical bills. Instead of being understanding, she began saying how hard she had it because she couldn’t pay her bills and needed  medical procedures and couldn’t afford it.  Oh, I’m sorry. I have cancer.

#3 Cancer Cockroaches

Long-lost relatives, elementary school classmates, old neighbors, former co-workers will come out of the word work, like cockroaches, to scamper around your kitchen and look for something juicy to feed on. Just ignore them. They were out of your life for decades for a reason. Like cockroaches, they have a very hard shell. They must also have a thick skull because no matter how many times you try to say politely that you don’t want their advice or help, they keep lingering. They stick around to feed on your crumbs and only disappear when you turn a bright light on and expose them.

#2 Cancer Cracker-Jacks

These are the cancer know-it-alls who insist on jamming their knowledge and “expertise” in the field of pathology, radiology, oncology and surgery down your throat even though they only graduated from Google University or the College of Word-of-Mouth. Some of these cracker-jacks may actually know a thing or two and may advise you not to listen to the doctors because they know more, even though they do not have an “M.D.” behind their name.

Anyone and everyone is an expert. They will tell you what you “should” and “shouldn’t” eat, drink, sniff, do or not do as far as your treatment is concerned. And they will get really offended if you don’t listen to them, because after all, they’re the experts.

I’ve been told to eat almonds, kale, avocados, kale, wheatgrass, soursop fruit and many more. The Cancer Center of America warns against using soursop fruit to treat cancer because “it has not been studied in humans. Eating the fruit could lead to movement disorders similar to Parkinson’s disease. In addition, a study suggests tea made for the leaves and stems of graviola is associated with neurotoxicity.”

Regarding wheatgrass, the American Cancer Society states, “scientific evidence does not support the idea that wheatgrass or the wheatgrass diet can cure or prevent disease. Because it is grown in soils or water and consumed raw, contamination with bacteria, molds, or other substances may be a concern. Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.”

Cancer Center of America states, “using herbal supplements while undergoing chemotherapy could reduce the efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents due to possible herb-drug interactions.”

#1 Cancer Cut-Outs

These are the worst. They are the people who cut out on you just when you need them most. They could be one of your best friends or a family member. In the short five weeks since I’ve been diagnosed I’ve had a few that I found shocking. I’ve been reading about the changes that happen in friendships and relationships after a cancer diagnosis. People you’d think would be there disappear. They’re scared, weak or don’t want my misfortune to ruin their happy place.

Then others you’d least expect to step up and fill the empty space. Letting go of those you cared about is hard but you realize they were never good friends to begin with. Actions speak louder than words. It takes two seconds to send a text or email saying “thinking of you” or “stay strong.” When you ignore or don’t say hello in public, then I know you don’t care. I won’t chase you, it’s your loss.

And no matter how mad you might get if your cancer patient is not listening to advice you think they”should” listen to, resorting to name-calling to someone facing a life-threatening illness is so completely heartless, rude, mean, callous and insensitive. (Yes, that happened to me)

I’m so grateful to those who are strong and brave enough to fight along with me. Like my dear friend said to me, “Cancer is not contagious. Yes, it depressing and sad but it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen to you. You’re Wendy– cancer or no cancer.

Will you join my fight? Click here to support my breast cancer treatment and share if you know someone whose life has been touched by cancer.

Photo: The Style Insider

3 Good Things About #MyLeftBoob #TripleNegative Diagnosis

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Original artwork sent to me from The Netherlands called “Power Against Poison” by Dutch artist Esther Ziher-GinczingerE-ster-art

Since posting about my Triple Negative Breast Cancer diagnosis yesterday some good things have already been happening.

#1) I have received SO much support on my GoFundMe page to help with medical costs and am so very grateful! Thank you to all who donated, shared my page and sent well wishes. This will definitely help with my medical expenses.

#2) A fellow journalist and Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor reached out and shared a great website with me that I had no idea existed,even after a week of researching all of the national cancer websites. Click here to visit the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation.

#3) Through my article on Newtown Patch about my diagnosis, someone told me that this coming Tuesday, March 3, is Triple Negative Awareness Day. How timely!

My mission since finding out that I have breast cancer on Feb. 4 is to raise awareness for self breast exams through #MyLeftBoob selfie awareness campaign. Click here for more info.

My new mission since finding out on Feb. 23 that I have the “rare and aggressive Triple Negative type of breast cancer that can mutate and come back to other parts of your body such as your skin, bones and lungs” is to raise awareness for research and clinical trials. Nobody should have to feel helpless and alone without resources.

Getting a TNBC diagnosis is so scary, it feels like you’ve been given a death sentence. But it doesn’t have to be that way if your doctors know what they are talking about. When your 70-something-year-old doctor tells you  that in all his years of treating women with breast cancer that he has never treated someone with this type, and that there is not much known about this Triple Negative, is frightening.

So many people with the”normal” kind of “highly treatable” breast cancer reach out and share their survival stories, which is awesome, but with Triple Negative you feel so alone and helpless because it is so rare.

People ask me how I can share something so private and personal. It is because more needs to be done; more research, more awareness, more clinical trials and testing and definitely more education for doctors at smaller hospitals so they can help the 1% of their patients who are diagnosed with this so we don’t have to live in fear.

Click here to support my Triple Negative Breast Cancer battle and awareness campaign.