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“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” –Bill Cosby
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A Touch Of Glamour For Breast Cancer Awareness This Holiday Season

posted by:
ErikaM

It was an eye opening experience for designer Iris Dankner when she was diagnosed with breast cancer 18 years ago during her first ever mammogram appointment. She realized how lucky she was to have had the means and the opportunity to catch the cancer in its early stages. Iris realized that every woman deserved an opportunity to save their own lives by gaining access to mammograms and other awareness programs as well.

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This is why in 2008, Iris decided to combine her love for design and her passion for breast cancer awareness by creating the Holiday House. She invited a number of her designer friends to sponsor and design a room at the historic Academy Mansion situated in New York’s swanky Upper East Side for the holidays.

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The event kicked off mid-November with an elegant gala which was followed by a number of Art lectures by noted members of New York’s Interior Design Circle.

If you are looking for something different to do this Christmas, why don’t you invite your girlfriends over to the Holiday House? Before you hit the clubs, have fun looking and taking pictures at all the exquisitely designed rooms inside the glamorous mansion all while putting your hard earned money to work. Admission is at $35 a person and 100% of proceeds will be forwarded to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. They are located at 2 East 63rd Street. The mansion is open to the general public until December 18th, 11am through 5 pm. Please drop by!

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The Legacy of Breast Cancer

posted by:
ErikaM

Some of you might remember that I lost my mom to breast cancer 9 years ago. Back then, there was no test available to determine if aside from her good looks, I had also inherited the cancer genes.

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Today’s technology now allows survivor’s daughters and family members to test themselves for the breast cancer gene. After her two bouts with the disease, survivor Betsey Sauer had her 4 daughters tested for the gene and 3 out of 4 tested positive. This means that her daughters are at a high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. While these results may not be the most ideal, it does give Betsey’s daughters the information they need to make decisions about their breast health today.

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And that’s just what they did.

Two of Betsey’s daughters chose to undergo preventive double mastectomies and oophorectomies (removal of the ovaries). Jenny and Kristin did not want to have their own families experience the suffering they did after watching their mother battle cancer twice.  Their younger sister Megan wasn’t as lucky. She was diagnosed with cancer before she had a chance to undergo the operation. At 27 years old, Megan was thankful that she knew about her cancer genes. It was because of this knowledge that underwent regular breast check-ups and her cancer was caught early.

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Daughters of survivors are at a special risk of developing breast cancer. Genetic screening is a painless way to know what your odds are, and it may very well give you the power to do everything you can to protect yourself from it.

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Taylor Swift’s Got Nothing on This Survivor

posted by:
ErikaM

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Are you familiar with Taylor Swift’s catchy tune “Shake It Off”? Get the refrain in your mind and swap the lyrics with:

It’s not just boobies

Balls need checking too, yeah

So get your hands on to them

If it’s caught early it’s gonna be alright

‘Cause we all like to say say say say say

That it’s never going to happen to me me me

But it does to one in three three three three three

So check yourself, check yourself

This catchy rendition of one of Taylor’s biggest hits was the brainchild of mom of two and breast cancer survivor Heather Walters. In an interview with the North Devon Journal, Heather explained the reason why she decided to use the hit song as a means to spread awareness “I’ve said from the start that this is not about scaring people – it’s just about making people aware and encouraging people of all ages to check themselves.

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The 34-year old knew firsthand the importance of performing regular breast examinations and how difficult it is to stay on track during treatment. Heather says the song really helped her when she was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer. If it had helped her through the hard times, she thought it would help other women as well.

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She asked some of her family and friends to help her make a video she can post online. Little did she know that over 50 people would volunteer to be a part of the gig! The video was choreographed by her daughter’s dance instructor and the song was arranged by a local band. Heather further commented that despite the bad cards life dealt her, the love and support of her whole community gave her a reason to hope again.

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A Light At The End of The Tunnel: A Promising New Vaccine Buys More Time For Survivors

posted by:
ErikaM

We always think we have enough time -time to pursue our dreams, time to spend with our loved ones and time to accomplish our work. The thing is, we may be giving ourselves false hope – not everybody is given the chance to live the life they want. This is especially true for the men and women diagnosed with cancer. Once you’ve been told you have it, time becomes a luxury. Suddenly, you realize that you may have very little time left to live the life you want.

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Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis may have found a way to give survivors more time with their loved ones. Although still in its early developmental stages, the team is developing a vaccine that would slow down the progression of breast cancer. The vaccine targets a protein that can be found exclusively in breast tissue called Mammoglobin-A. It works by activating the body’s white blood cells to start attacking cells that contain Mammoglobin-A. Because this protein is almost exclusively found in breast tissue, this vaccine is said to have little to no effect on other body cells which reduces side effects.

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The study involved 14 patients with metastatic breast cancer. The results revealed that half of the participants showed no disease progression a year after the vaccine was given. It was also showed that the vaccine works even with the weak immune system brought about by conventional cancer therapy.

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Although the results of this trial are promising, skeptics are saying that the population tested is too small to call the results definitive. We’d just like to point out that there was a time when children all over the world were crippled by polio. But thanks to the tireless efforts to put an end to it, Polio breakouts are now reduced to a few small communities. We believe, as these researchers do, that there is still hope to find a vaccine that would finally put an end to breast cancer.

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Survivor Dies From Adrenal Surgery Blunder

posted by:
ErikaM

It is not uncommon for cancer to metastasize outside the beasts.

This was the case for 35 year old Nicole Haynes. In 2011, Nicole underwent a lumpectomy to remove a tumor found on one of her breasts. The following year, another mass was found, this time on an adrenal gland. Her doctors suspected that the mass was not an isolated case of cancer and may be indicative of metastasis. As a precaution, Nicole underwent a keyhole surgery to remove the mass.

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A keyhole surgery is a minimally invasive procedure carried out through small incisions and uses high tech imaging cameras such as fiber optics to visualize the area. This type of surgery has become a routine for many survivors because it is minimally invasive, there is very little risk involved and patients are expected to recover faster.

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However, things did not go as planned for Nicole’s surgery. She began showing signs of deterioration hours after the procedure was concluded. In order to find out what was causing Nicole’s symptoms, her doctors ordered a CT Scan. Since the hospital’s scanner was broken, she had to be brought to the Conquest Hospital in St. Leonard’s.  The CT Scan revealed that the blood vessels supplying her liver and her gut have been cut off.  She underwent additional surgery in King’s College Hospital in London but died a few weeks later.

Investigation revealed that the wrong vessels were clipped during her surgery. Instead of cutting off the vessels of the adrenal glands, the surgeon mistakenly clipped the vessels supplying her gut and liver. Without proper blood supply, the tissues in her gut and liver starved and began to die.

Both parties are still awaiting the court’s decision on this matter.

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‘I Was Told I Had Breast Cancer 5 Months Too Late’

posted by:
ErikaM

Katie Maytum, 35, had a strong family history of breast cancer. This is why she immediately consulted her family physician when she found a lump on her left breast July 2010. However, for reasons she didn’t understand, Katie had to wait 5 and half months to get an appointment.

1416790438259_Image_galleryImage_Katie_Maytum_Social_mediaKatie Maytum (Photo from The Daily Mail)

By then, it was too late – Katie was told she had cancer on the same day she went to the specialist on January 2011.She had undergone a series of surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy after being diagnosed. Despite heroic efforts, Katie was told she had 18 months to live April of this year.

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Believing that an earlier trip to the doctor could have saved her life, Katie is now suing the Welsh NHS Health Board for £750,000. The investigation revealed that despite her GP’s ‘urgent’ recommendations, Katie was downgraded to a ‘routine’ case by a surgeon at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, South Wales. This should have not been the case, given Katie’s health and family background according to the Urgent Referral Guidelines of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Katie’s legal counsels are asserting that had she been treated as an urgent case, the cancer may have not progressed as quickly and she may have been saved from the death sentence she is facing now.

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Early detection and saving lives is a community effort. This story implicates the need for advocates to work closely with people from their local health authorities. Their efforts to push for early detection can be greatly thwarted if high risk women such as Katie will not be given immediate access to tests and health care professionals.

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Fertility and Breast Cancer: What Your Doctor May Not Be Telling You

posted by:
ErikaM

There is no question that cancer treatments may affect a woman’s ability to procreate. In spite of many ground breaking advancements in medical and radiation therapy, most treatments still cannot discriminate between cancerous and healthy cells which can cause the ovaries to temporarily stop working. In some cases, cancer treatment may even bring on menopause prematurely.

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Yet, despite these alarming facts, most young women diagnosed breast cancer aren’t getting the information they need about guarding their fertility during treatment.

UK-based charity Breast Cancer Care asked 170 survivors under the age of 45 if fertility risks and options were discussed by their physicians. Among them, only 12% of the women were given a referral to a fertility clinic. In fact, most of the women say that they did not even know that infertility is a risk that came with chemotherapy.

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Breast Cancer Care chief executive Samia al Qadhi said that breast cancer can rob a woman of her chances to have a family. They believe that along with discussing the course of the disease and treatment options, survivors should also be educated about the choices they need to make about their fertility. For example. a survivor may not be aware that she has the option to freeze some of her eggs to protect them from the harsh effects of cancer therapy and use them in case she wants to have children in the future.

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We join the BCC in encouraging health care providers to include fertility options in their education sessions.  Breast cancer should not deny a woman of her choice to have children of her own.

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Woman Fakes Breast Cancer To Get Bigger Breasts

posted by:
ErikaM

During a veteran’s pride parade in 2013, a cancer survivor noticed how Belva Jo Williams was able to hoist a banner so high up in the air after supposedly having both of her breasts removed because of breast cancer.

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 You might be wondering why such a simple act – being able to raise a banner – lead to a legal inquiry.  In 2012, Williams has asked a U.S. Veterans Group for help saying that she had breast cancer and that OHIP did not cover her mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. She also told them that she was a decorated veteran of the United States and Canadian Militaries. The group was able to raise $5,000 for Williams by soliciting money from their members and supporters.

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When the survivor saw how effortlessly Williams was able to raise a banner, her gut instinct and experience kicked in. A woman who has undergone a double mastectomy will have difficulty performing the act because of the surgery. In fact, she shouldn’t have been able to do it at all.

Further investigation revealed that three troubling facts:  Williams did not have breast cancer, she was never a member of the military and that she used the money not to get reconstructive surgery, but to augment her breasts. She was sentenced to 4 months last August for fraud and breaching a court order.

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But it didn’t stop there. In order to prove her innocence, Williams produced two forged documents including a receipt from the clinic where she supposedly got her breasts reconstructed. Belva Jo Williams is now awaiting her sentence for this new allegation early December.

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A Survivor’s Plea To Spend More Time With Her Newborn Baby

posted by:
ErikaM

When Michelle Buchholtz learned that she had Stage 4 Breast Cancer in 2012, the next step was quite obvious – a double mastectomy and the removal of 18 affected lymph nodes. In an unexpected turn of events, Michelle and her fiancé Alex Ansalone discovered that they were expecting their first child during the surgery. However, because of the Michelle’s extensive treatments, they were forced to terminate the pregnancy.

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Later that year, the couple was pregnant again, but the baby had congenital abnormalities and wasn’t able to get to term. At this point, any couple would have been discouraged, but Alex and Michelle decided to take matters into their own hands. They decided to try for a third time once Michelle was declared cancer free, which happened February this year.

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At 17 weeks pregnant, Michelle began to experience back pain that couldn’t be linked to her pregnancy. Several tests were done and they revealed the couple’s worst fears – the cancer had come back with a vengeance. It has spread to Michelle’s spine, pelvis, hip and thigh. The doctors told them it was impossible to be cured at this point, but the couple was determined to deliver their baby this time around. Michelle delivered Precious Ava at 29 weeks, because she might not survive her mother’s cancer ridden body. It was both a heart breaking and inspirational moment when mother and daughter met for the first time.

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“It was difficult to be totally happy initially.I was looking at her thinking ‘Oh My God, I’m not going to be here’, but when they put her on my chest a couple of days later everything sank away.”

Michelle’s fiancé and family continue to gather funds to be able to afford life extending therapies for the new mom. Although the cancer is incurable, they want to give Michelle as much time as possible with her daughter.

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Photos Taken from Yahoo! News Australia

			   	 	
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Young Boy Delivers On His Promise To Help Breast Cancer Survivors

posted by:
ErikaM

Unlike other 12 year olds who get the things they want in an instant, Nasai Oliver’s parents gave him something better – an opportunity to learn how to make money and buy the things he wants.

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Instead of buying him a pair of Air Jordans, his mother helped him set up his own lemonade stand in one of Delaware’s toughest neighborhoods. The locals flocked to Nasai’s lemonade stand, thankful for the positivity he brings to the corner that was known for violent crimes.

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Oliver started selling their family’s secret lemonade recipe for $3 a cup on the corner of Jessup Street and Vandever Avenue. Nasai learned many valuable lessons manning his stand, including how to communicate with and market his lemonade to passers-by. In just a few weeks, Nasai was able to earn the $175 he needed for the sneakers. Inspired by his success, Nasai decided to keep selling the drink and he was able to buy his back to school wardrobe and a plus a few more sneakers!

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For breast cancer awareness month, Oliver promised to donate twenty five cents from each pink lemonade cup sold to his local breast cancer charity. This cause has as a special place in the Oliver’s hearts as a great grandmother suffered and died from the disease. This week, he made good on that promise when he handed $45 to the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition.

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Nasai is an inspiration for the young and old alike. He was taught the dignity of earning an honest living and the importance of giving to charity at an early age.

We wish Nasai the best of luck in his future endeavors!

Photos from The Delaware Online
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