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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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‘I Enrolled in A Master’s Program While I Was Battling Breast Cancer’

posted by:
ErikaM

Have you ever put off something you wanted to do because you thought you had all the time in the world to do it?

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When 25 year old Cansu Kucuk was told by her doctor that she had breast cancer, everything changed. While other girls her age were concerned about climbing the corporate ladder and dating, Cansu was busy making sure she went to her chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions. She didn’t book mani/pedi appointments anymore. Instead, she made sure that her nails do not fall out as a side effect of cancer treatment.

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During her ordeal, Cansu realized that she may not have time to do the things she wanted to do in her life after all. This is why she decided to apply for a Master’s Degree in Marketing Communications. She had wanted to pursue graduate studies for a few years, but put it off because she thought she didn’t have the money, time or patience for it. However, after being told that she had breast cancer, Cansu thought that it was now or never.

However difficult and time-consuming it was combining my studies with a job and coping with my many health problems during my first year, I can’t put into words the amount of satisfaction and motivation that going to university gave me.

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It wasn’t an easy journey for Cansu to balance treatments, full time work and school, but she made it through with the help of her family, university and co-workers who supported her during her courageous ordeal. She went on further to say that pursuing a lifelong dream during cancer treatment gave her focus and something to look forward to which helped her win her battle.

Cansu is now cancer free and a proud Master’s Degree holder.

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When The Fight Gets Too Tough To Handle

posted by:
ErikaM

After learning that her breast cancer was more advanced than originally thought, a woman from Mississippi ended her own life.

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Trudy Noonan was found by firefighters inside a burning Chevrolet Sedan mid morning of October 13th along a quiet rural road in Hampton Township.  The 52 year old’s family is still in the dark as to why Trudy chose to end her life despite the doctor telling her that the treatments are shrinking the tumor and that she was getting better. Trudy left a note saying that the cancer wasn’t in Stage 2 as they originally thought – it was in fact in Stage 3 and metastasizing to different parts of her body. The family has yet to confer with Trudy’s doctor about the real state of her health at the time of her death.

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Depression and the desire to commit suicide are not uncommon among the terminally ill. Just recently, 29 year old Brittany Maynard, a woman diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, gained national interest when she announced that she would voluntarily take a drug to end her life November 1st. Brittany released a Youtube video explaining her controversial decision saying “I can’t even tell you the amount of relief that it provides me to know that I don’t have to die the way it’s been described to me that my brain tumor would take me on its own.

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Trudy’s family encourages others who are diagnosed with cancer to reach out and get the help they need. Cancer isn’t something to be fought alone and there are suicide hotlines, breast cancer charities and support groups that are available to help people who are thinking about ending their lives because of their diagnosis.

This story is proof that more than medical treatment, people diagnosed with cancer also need emotional and spiritual support.

Photos Courtesy of The Bay City Times

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I Have Painful Breasts… Do I Have Breast Cancer?

posted by:
ErikaM

I can’t remember how many times I’ve asked myself this question over the past 5 years. I’ve lost both my grandmother and mother to breast cancer which made me quite paranoid about everything and anything related to my breasts.

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Breast pain is not an unusual occurrence in women in their mid to late twenties. It is often a cause of panic because of the increasing number of women being diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 40. However, experts are saying that breast pain is a very rare (early) sign of breast cancer. Breast pain or tenderness is often related to hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle. However, it can also be due to the following:

  • Costochondritis – or pain in the middle of the chest may be caused by poor posture or aging.
  • Caffeine – too much coffee can dilate blood vessels and cause the breast to swell.
  • Ill Fitting Bra – wearing the wrong bra size may cause breast pain.

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The best way to detect breast cancer is still by performing the Breast Self Examination once a month. If the pain continues to be unrelieved and is accompanied by any of these warning signs, it’s time to visit your health care provider for a more thorough assessment. The warning signs include:

  • A lump, hardening or thickening in the breast or armpit area
  • A change in color, texture, size or color of the breast
  • Nipple discharge

Breast pain may be a rare sign of breast cancer, but in our opinion, it still pays to be prudent and vigilant when it comes to your health. Get informed and get tested today!

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The Scar Project: A Different Perspective on Breast Cancer

posted by:
ErikaM

What is the first thing that comes into your mind when breast cancer is mentioned? I bet it’s the image of the pink ribbon, right? Or may be groups of people in pink participating in some sporting event or concert?

This is how most of us see breast cancer. But for the victims and their families, having breast cancer is a far cry from pink ribbons and marathons. It puts you into a dark place where a spark of hope can quickly turn into despair. Breast cancer leaves scars.

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The other side of breast cancer is not often talked about, primarily because not everyone can appreciate how bad it can really get. The Scar Project is not afraid to show the other side of breast cancer with its provocative and heart wrenching awareness campaign. They feature portraits of young women showing the scars left by their battle with breast cancer. The campaign features women ages 18-40 – an age group that many thought isn’t at all at risk for the disease. It was quite a surprise to learn that breast cancer is the leading cause of death in young women ages 15-40! To say that that fact is alarming is an understatement.

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I have seen many campaigns about breast cancer as the writer of this blog, but none have touched me as much as these portraits shot by photographer David Jay. The Scar Project is not your conventional awareness campaign, but it is just as important. It presents and honors victims as they are – scarred but victorious.

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Why Some Survivors Hate Breast Cancer Awareness Month

posted by:
ErikaM

Last week, we’ve told you about what Pink Washing means and why many of us fall victim to it every October. Year after year, companies continue to ride on the lucrative Breast Cancer campaign wagon and misleading consumers into buying products for the benefit of those afflicted with the disease.

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Pink Washing is only one reason why many survivors like Leah Gabriel aren’t too keen on celebrating awareness month. In an article published in the Washington Post, Leah narrated how she had come to hate October since she was diagnosed with the disease a few years ago. Leah recounted her intimate battle, narrating the grueling surgical and medical treatments she had undergone for 2 years. Leah revealed that she had lost more than her hair during that battle, and that breast cancer has taken her to dark places she never imagined existed. Cancer is an ugly, depressing battle she says, and no pink ribbon is going to make that any better.

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These things remind me of happiness, babies and cotton candy. They do not conjure an image of a grown woman staring down death, swearing that she will kill herself before it kills her. Nor does it remind me of a woman who curses God and shakes her fist in anger that circumstance and chance get preference over her children’s futures. Nor does it remind me of a woman who has endured a rapid shift from a subtly beautiful, soft and vibrant picture of femininity to a bloated, gray-faced and wrinkled alien topped with a slick skull where curly, luscious locks once flowed sensuously down her back.

For those of us who have actually witness what it’s like for someone we love to battle breast cancer, it is hard not to agree with Leah’s sentiments. Breast cancer indeed has its ugly side and it can be frustrating to see survivors and supporters celebrating in pink while your loved one has lost their own battle. It can even hurt at times as if they are reopening a wound that you are still struggling to close.

 Let’s be mindful of the fact that there is real suffering behind the pink ribbon and remember that more than our money and attention, these people need our sympathy and sensitivity as well.

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4 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying A Pink Product For Breast Cancer Awareness

posted by:
ErikaM

In the light of all the campaigns and events lined up this month, an organization is urging people to “think before you pink” – a call to consumers to ask companies where the millions of dollars they donate really goes.

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Think Before You Pink is the self-proclaimed watchdog of the breast cancer movement and they’ve made it their mission to ensure that real justice is served to women who are battling cancer. One way to do this is by asking critical questions before buying a pink product. These questions are:

  1. Does any money from this purchase go to support breast cancer programs? How much?
  2. What organization will get the money? What will they do to the funds and how do these programs turn the tide of the breast cancer epidemic?
  3. Is there a “cap” on the amount the company will donate? Has it already been met? Can You Tell?
  4. Does this purchase put you or someone you love at risk for exposure to toxins linked to breastcancer? What is the company doing to ensure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

If you answer positively to these questions, then go ahead and purchase the product. However, if you are unsure whether breast cancer survivors will get help from your purchase, take action and donate directly to your charity of choice.

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We applaud Breast Cancer Action’s Think Before You Pink Campaign as it promotes transparency and facilitates real action against breast cancer.  It is important that we stay vigilant on how companies and organizations are using donations because in the end, it’s about the men, women and children who are affected by breast cancer.

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How do you think your charity fares?

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How A Man and His Motorcycle Is Raising Awareness About Breast Cancer

posted by:
ErikaM

A man and his motorcycle is not exactly the first thing that comes into your mind when breast cancer awareness is mentioned.

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Ruben Rodriguez and his wife spent over $25,000 to custom build a Kawasaki ZX-14 into a breast cancer awareness campaign on wheels. The Rodriguez’s are avid bike collectors and builders and wanted to incorporate their passion into their mission to raise awareness about the importance of early detection in breast cancer. The couple does not take any donations neither are they looking to make a fortune out of the hot pink ride. The Houston natives said they just wanted to tour the state and reach out to as many breast cancer patients as they can with the bike. In 2013, Ruben helped raised $5,000 for breast cancer awareness and hopes to surpass it this year with the help of the bike.

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Their only rewards are the priceless reactions they get from cancer survivors. “People have cried to me, people have offered me money and people hug me, it’s crazy. I like to see the ladies’ faces, it’s pretty crazy,” said Rodriguez “Now I just want to take it to as many walks, as many breast cancer events that I can get to …” Aside from the shocking pink color, the bike also features inspirational quotes on its exterior. Chris Caballero of Precision Cycle Works and builder of the bike said that he and Rodriguez carefully selected and airbrushed each pink ribbon and quote on the bike themselves for a personal touch.

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 Ruben and his team has proven the fact that there are a multitude of ways we can help women and families battling breast cancer as long as we put our hearts and passion into it!

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Why It’s Important To Let Young Boys Know About Breast Cancer

posted by:
ErikaM

In the advent of Breast Cancer Awareness Month,  Manatee High JV Football coach Hand Mallol took it upon himself to let his boys know about the importance of early detection in Breast Cancer Awareness. He invited Sharon Carlson, a 7-year survivor, to be his pre-game speaker before the match against Riverview High School October 1st.

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 Carlson, 64, told the boys about her journey from diagnosis to survivorship. Sharon religiously performed BSE and undergone mammograms every year because she knew she had a strong history of breast cancer in the family and because of her genetic susceptibility as an Ashkenazi Jew. After a negative mammogram result in January 2007, Carlson was surprised to find a lump on her left breast 3 months later. To add insult to injury, she had to wait two weeks for a mammogram and another 2 weeks for her out of town doctor to confirm the diagnosis of breast cancer.   Sharon credits her survival to the early detection methods she learned a long time ago. If she wasn’t persistent in her monthly BSE and yearly mammograms, things would have turned out a lot different for her and her family. The tumor could’ve progressed without her knowing and it would have been too late for treatment.

100VQ9.AuSt.69Hey! Are you looking for cool breast cancer awareness giveaways? Check out Suddora or Custom On It!

While it is true that there is a small chance these boys might get diagnosed with breast cancer, their sisters, mothers, aunts and grandmothers are at great risk. By empowering them with the right knowledge, these boys might make a difference in their loved ones’ lives by encouraging them to get checked regularly.  They can be instrumental in inspiring the women in their lives to take an active role in breast cancer prevention.  One way to do it is for them to ask their sisters, mothers and grandmothers to all get mammograms on his birthday. Now isn’t that a great idea?

Photo Credits to the Bradenton Herald
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The WWE and Komen Tag Team Against Cancer

posted by:
ErikaM

Last Monday, the WWE arena exploded in pink as the WWE kicks off its annual Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign.

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In partnership with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the WWE has helped raise over $1.2 Million since 2012’s Rise Above Cancer Campaign. Chief Brand Office Stephanie McMahon said that because of their 13 million weekly viewers and growing female fan base, the WWE is in a good position to spread awareness.  “Breast cancer affects everybody. It doesn’t discriminate against who it attacks. With over 13 million weekly viewers, we have an incredible platform to spread the message of awareness.” The WWE has also funded mobile mammogram machines called “Mammovans” placed at their live events for people who couldn’t afford to get tested.

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 WWE Superstars lead by John Cena and Hulk Hogan all wore pink “Keep Calm and Never Give Up” and “Support The Twins” T-shirts Monday night.  John Cena, who is a passionate supporter of breast cancer awareness, was the one who initiated the partnership with Komen three years ago. After witnessing several of his family members battle breast cancer, Cena knew the he had to use his fame to do something about it. Even outside of the WWE, Cena can be seen in Komen’s events interacting with survivors and their families.

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This year’s courage campaign is gearing up to be the largest one yet, as the WWE will be hosting events for the entire month of October and will donate 20% of the retail sales price of co-branded merchandise sold online and at events plus 5% of all items sold at WWEShop.com. Fans can also donate through the website to benefit the Komen Foundation.

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Not Again! The NFL Messes Up Their Own Awareness PSA

posted by:
ErikaM

We’re starting to feel really bad for the guys at the NFL. They’ve been in hot water for quite some time because of the unsatisfactory way they handled several domestic violence cases allegedly involving some of their players. Then just last week, Procter and Gamble announced that they were pulling the plug on their annual donations to the NFL’s Breast Cancer Awareness Program.

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As part of the 2014 campaign, the NFL planned to come out with a TV Ad featuring some of their members to talk about breast cancer awareness. The shoot was supposed to take place in New York City September 16 and shot by  director Henry Alex Rubin. The plan was to film Carolina Panther DeAngelo Williams and the Patriots’ Danny Amendola while they demonstrated the proper way to do a breast exam. The Ad was also supposed to feature a breast cancer survivor to talk about how easy it is do undergo a mammogram.

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However, things did not go as planned. While the crew, the director and the survivor (who drove all the way from Boston) all made it to the set, Williams and Amendola were nowhere to be found.  The organizers tried to get in touch with the players but where surprised to find out that neither one boarded their flight to the Big Apple. According to their reps, Williams was unable to make it because he had to undergo rehab and Amendola was never even aware that he was part of the shoot!

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In an effort to save face, the NFL looked for any player nearby who can do the shoot. Steve Weatherford of the NY Giants was contacted but never made it because according to his reps, “The NFL told him he was no longer needed.

In the end, the organizers changed the PSA to feature only the breast cancer survivor. What did you think of this story?

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