Katie & I …

It’s officially October, and the fall leaves are in full display in central MN. October is also breast cancer awareness month. This became extra meaningful for me after my cancer diagnosis & treatment. I recently got this mug as a gift from an aunt of mine. I chose to have pink sparkle nails this month too! I probably won’t wear pink every day since I work from home.

Last week I wrote about connections. I also learned that I have a connection with Katie Couric. Although she is 65 (I was 41), she was diagnosed with breast cancer this summer. From the Today Show web site, I learned she also had a lumpectomy (left side) and radiation. They interviewed her on the Today Show on Monday and we had a remarkably high number of similarities. Stage 1, Her2 Negative, HR positive, left side lumpectomy & radiation, followed by aromatase inhibitors, no chemo. So I guess we are “besties” now. I do have a mass communication degree, and I did do a TV internship, so yeah, we’re pretty similar. (Ha ha)

Some of her main goals are to increase awareness, get legislation passed to improve health care and insurance coverage for women with dense breast tissue, and remind women to get their mammogram. When you have a mammogram, they should be able to tell you if you have dense tissue. If you do, a 3D mammogram is recommended because they can see through the dense tissue more effectively. If they notice a spot of concern, they may do an ultrasound of the area. Depending on what that says, they may biopsy it and test the tissue to confirm if it’s cancerous or not. (PS – if you do have a biopsy, do not go back to work the rest of the day. Get some ice packs, take some ibuprofen and take a nap!)

The month of October is a trigger for me. There are a few “anniversaries” coming up and this is just before the big one. Mine was caught early. I took the recommended steps but I also incorporated some things on my own. I believe I am supposed to be an example of early detection and surviving/thriving. I slipped a little on my journey, but I’m on track again. I’m starting to feel better as I shed some pounds, and my A1C has gone from 6.9 in April to 5.8 now (goal is under 5.7)

I wish your peace on your journey of enough & grace through the seasons of change. Take time to care for yourself while you’re busy caring for others. And… get your mammogram!

The fine line…

Today is October 1st. Typically “Pinktober” reminds us of breast cancer awareness. When I was getting ready this morning, I wasn’t sure if I should wear pink. Do I wear pink all month long? I’ve done that before. Do I ignore it and go on with my day? It’s a fine line between hope and fear.

I wasn’t sure what I’d write about today. I had three other topics in mind, but all of these “pink” messages and memories popped up, so I took that as my sign. (Even though I likely lost many people once they saw the subject.) I’ve put away many of my warrior/survivor/pink shirts. It’s not that I don’t acknowledge it. Every day I have a reminder of what I went through. Do I wear pink for me? For you? For someone just diagnosed? Maybe all of the above.

I wear pink for me as a reminder of my strength. When we were cleaning the boys’ rooms this weekend, there was a shirt from a 5k we ran, supporting breast cancer research. It said “I run for ____” and “mom” was written in black sharpie in that blank. A lump formed in my throat and I just couldn’t get rid of it. Even though it no longer fit, I had to save it. Part of me wasn’t ready yet.

I wear pink for you. I wear it as a reminder to get checked. Have a yearly mammogram. Encourage others to do the same. The temporary pain is minimal. Don’t ignore something unusual. Don’t assume it can’t happen to you. Don’t put it off. You may think I’m annoying, but if it reminds someone to schedule their appointment, it’s worth it.

I wear pink for someone recently diagnosed. When I was diagnosed, I didn’t wear a giant sign that said “Hey, guess what? I just found out I have invasive ductal carcinoma.” I looked fine. I looked normal. I didn’t lose my hair. Someone else might be going through the same thing. Or their wife, friend, daughter or sister. I’m here with you. I support you. I wear pink for you.

I actually felt ill today. The thought of October brings anxiety that punches me in the gut. I think I’m fine, and then “wham.” Do I live in fear of recurrence or hope for good heath? The fine line. Today, I chose hope. I chose to make a change, to chose joy, to live my best life. I chose to support “Pink it Forward” – an organization who sends care packages to breast cancer patients. I chose to write about it because it’s a part of me. It doesn’t define me, but it shaped me in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you have the courage to make the appointment. May you chose hope over fear in all aspects of your life. Life is short, enjoy the journey.

Pinktober

I’m sure you know by now that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. To some people, it might be an annoying amount of pink. The first year after I was diagnosed, I wore pink every single day in October. It’s not that I love the color (I really didn’t own much pink previously). I wanted to raise awareness. I wanted someone who wouldn’t think of getting checked to call and make an appointment for a mammogram. I wanted them to see a (then) 41 year old breast cancer survivor and realize that it could happen to them. I want a husband to remind his wife to get checked. I wanted a mom to urge her daughter to get checked, or a group of friends to go together & have drinks after.

According to statistics, my aunts having breast cancer might not have been of concern – they aren’t “straight line” relatives. Straight line relatives would be mother/daughter/sister/grandmother. I had none of those… yet I went anyway. My cancer was detected because they had a baseline to compare to from the year before. I had gone the past few years. Because of this baseline, they could see the lump that was not there 12 months prior. They could take action instead of just waiting to see if it changed. People may complain about mammograms being painful. It is far more painful to have a wire guided biopsy and then have a mammogram (to make sure they have your cancerous tumors pinpointed).

If you’ve had breast cancer in the past, there is no reason to avoid follow up appointments. None. Think you don’t have the time? It takes less than 30 minutes. 30 minutes once a year. You are worth it. You are so worth it that you should go out for lunch after… or get a massage, or a manicure or get a treat of some kind. 30 minutes a year could be the difference between stage 1 or 2 and stage 4. There is no stage 5. I was 41 when I was diagnosed and I have promised my husband and my boys and my sisters and my parents and my friends that I will get checked every year for the rest of my life. Pinktober is just a good reminder to do so. My appointment is already scheduled for November. When is yours? Make sure your journey lasts as long as possible- make your mammogram appointment or urge the women in your life to schedule theirs.

Pinktober

Last year, I wore pink every day in the month of October, even dressing up in my pink tutu for Halloween. This October, I’ve had a lot of changes brewing in my life and I haven’t worn as much pink. I did want to take the time to tell you about a group that has special meaning to me… “Pink it Forward.”

After I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, shortly after my 41st birthday, a friend told me about Pink it Forward. They send care packages to breast cancer patients free of charge. There are a few different packages to choose from: 1) Treatment Package is put together with chemo and radiation treatments in mind. It has a tote, blanket, water bottle, chocolates and other items to combat some side effects. 2) Determination package has a hand made fleece blanket. 3) Pajama package has soft, button front pjs – so important after surgery! 4) Relax pack has a soft robe, journal and ice packs. This group of women have been impacted by breast cancer themselves and in their family. They wanted to find a way to give back or pay it forward. When you are thinking about giving for pink this month, please keep them in mind. They accept monetary donations to help fund the packages, but they also have fund raisers, blanket tying events and a craft/vendor show. You may not know where your money is going with some larger groups. This group uses the funds to put together the packages and ship them at no charge. Do you know someone who was diagnosed and you don’t know what to do for them? First, pray for them. Then go to pinkitforward.org and request a package for them. Want to help out? Follow them on Facebook to find out about upcoming events.

My boys had a Citizenship project in 4-H last year. They each made a tie blanket for Pink it Forward and will be giving the blankets to the group shortly.


Think Pink this month and think of Pink it Forward. You may just help someone else in their journey of enough.