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I'm tired of being mad, sad, frustrated, aggravated...

One of my favorite holidays just passed... and I'm still basking in the afterglow. Valentine's day is just a great holiday to me. Okay... okay... before I get hit with all the bah-humbug rumblings from the peanut gallery I understand that a lot of people simply do not enjoy the day the way that I do. Its okay and I'm okay with your choice to hate it as long as you're okay with my choice to love it.

Cool? Cool.

So, here I am a few days after v-day... nursing a headache because I've spent the past two days gobbling down so much chocolate that I think I may have sent my body into some sort of shock. Its been wonderful. I received some fantastic gifts from people who love me and think I'm great. One of those gifts came from myself. Yep. I chose to love on me this valentine's day and I have to tell you that I am so thrilled with myself.

I am single. I'm not actively dating any one person in particular though I do date a bit. I go out when invited and have fun. I also go out alone quite a bit and enjoy the company of myself too. (Do you feel a theme here?) 

A few days before valentine's day, I read a blog post from another breast cancer survivor and it really helped to solidify the way that I decided to approach this year's love holiday. My pink ribbon sister is dealing with metastatic breast cancer. That means that her cancer returned and now it has advanced to her bones and other organs and basically... there isn't much hope for a cure at this point, they are simply trying to manage her pain and help her deal with the inevitable. She will likely die from this disease. As I read her post and empathized with her anger, I realized that my choice to love the LOVE holiday was a good one.

Back when I last had a boyfriend -- which was during the beginning of my cancer treatment -- valentine's day came along and I was so excited at the notion that in the midst of all the craziness of my life with breast cancer, I would have an opportunity to ignore the madness and fully focus my attention on showing my guy that I really loved and appreciated him. And then I was hit with a brick wall. My guy didn't like valentine's day. Refused to celebrate it. And even better, he was going out of town that weekend to spend time with friends. To say that I was severely disappointed would be an understatement. To say that I'm still angry about it would be really true. Here's the thing... I understood that he was "unhappy" and felt that I had not been paying enough attention to him. Personally, I thought it was some crap but his feelings were his and just because I didn't agree didn't mean that they weren't valid. But considering that valentine's day came about a month after I had lost my breast and about 6 weeks after I ended my chemo... a nice time with my guy was something I looked forward to. And yes, my heart was broken that he decided that I wasn't worth his energy.

So... two years later I'm still a little pissy about that sorry valentine's day. But I'm not sad about it. I'm angry that I wasted my precious energy being sad back then. I can't (and don't plan to) change anyone's mind about valentine's day. I love it. I don't plan on stopping. I still have the valentine's day card that my high school boyfriend gave me. I haven't looked at it in years but I know that its in the box on the shelf in my closet. I'm that kind of girl, you know? When someone shares a piece of themselves with me... I treasure it. I keep it and I think about it. Because it is a true gift and you can't under estimate its worth. And when someone shows you that they don't look at life the same way that I do... I file it away so that I don't disturb them in the future with the things that bother them if I can help it. When my then-boyfriend told me (yet again) that he didn't like or appreciate my fondness for certain holidays, I filed it under... "crazy things about this dude that I love"... and kept it moving.

Fast forward two years... I'm single. I'm cancer free. I'm slowly getting my sexy swag turned all the way up. I'm dating -- as much as my little heart and always crowded calendar will allow. I have hair and its cute hair. Very curly, quite stylish. I'm feeling peaceful about a lot of things. But those few days before valentine's day when I was feeling "some kind of way" and I couldn't put my finger on it... I was once again mad with myself. For all of the things I could complain about in my life (like everybody else) I knew that I really just needed to focus on all the ways that I am super-duper blessed and keep it moving.

Look, I'm tired of being mad. I'm tired of being sad. I'm tired of being aggravated by other people, stupid situations and really unfortunate circumstances that life brings to my doorstep. No, I wouldn't wish breast cancer on my worst enemy. Hell, if I could go back in time and keep myself from getting it, I surely would climb into my Delorean from Back to the Future and stop this mad train from running me over. But I can't. And since there isn't a cure yet... I can't keep anyone else from getting it. What I can do... is try to help other people be more comfortable with the idea that IF it happens to them (or someone they love) they can get through it -- no matter how it shows up. Whether it shows up and just is a huge and expensive inconvenience or it is a large and looming deadly event... you can still be YOU and function in this world.

So, this year, I decided that in the midst of all the madness that I'm going through and all the wonderful blessings that are heading my way... I decided that I wanted something nice just for me. And that gift to myself brought me more joy that you can really imagine. The icing on the cake was receiving gifts of love from some of my favorite little people in the world and receiving all kinds of happy text messages and smiles the entire day. It was a good valentine's day for me. I hope that it was a good one for you too.

Next year... maybe I'll take myself on a trip someplace tropical and warm. (smile)


My thoughts about my journey with breast cancer.

Webinar: African-American women and triple negative breast cancer

I've mentioned in the past that breast cancer shows up differently in black women than in white women. Breast cancer is more often a deadly disease in black women than in other races. The reasons for this are multiple. But, one of the reasons is because of a particular type of breast cancer that is very difficult to diagnose and affects black women at a much higher rate than other women.

Triple negative breast cancer affects my pink ribbon sistagirls in a major way. Susan G. Komen Foundation is holding a free webinar to discuss this particular strain of breast cancer and its impact on black women. The details are below. I hope that you choose to tune in and learn about it.

PS. I did not have triple negative breast cancer. But I do know several women who have struggled with this disease and it is very difficult to manage.

2/14/2011 - Triple Negative Breast Cancer in the African American Woman

3-4 p.m. CST / 4-5 p.m. EST

Please join us for a discussion on triple negative breast cancer in the African American woman. Over the last couple of years, triple negative breast cancer has received a lot of attention from the breast cancer community. In spite of this “buzz,” women who are diagnosed with this form of breast cancer are confused about what the diagnosis means and do not understand their treatment options or their risk. Our two speakers for the hour will be Dr. Olufunmilayo Olopade from the University of Chicago Medical Center and survivor and Komen advocate, Tina Lewis.



This event is being streamed. It is recommended that you listen via your computer speakers. If for any reason you are unable to stream, you can listen to the audio via the telephone by calling:

Telephone (ONLY if you cannot listen through your computer): ( 877 ) 633 - 6595

Conference ID: 38804979

NOTE: Please click the link below to easily test your internet connection prior to joining the meeting:

Connection Test: http://test.meeting-stream.com

Faith is necessary

I had a momentary crisis of faith this morning. I received a message that one of my pink-ribbon sisters found out that her breast cancer has returned for a third time. That news shook me deeply. After the fear subsided, the anger took over and once again I had to really stare into the mirror and adjust my faith.

Renewing my faith is a regular process. I lost my composure earlier today. Sometimes it is tough to remember that my blessing isn't another person's curse. They too have their blessings to be grateful for and thankful of.

I do not know what causes breast cancer. I do not know if something in our environment, our food supply, or something else is contributing to these high incidences of cancer. I do know that until a cure is found, I will continue to ring the alarm that we all need to do what we can to live our best lives to maintain our breast health.

  1. Eat well -- eat fewer processed foods and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Enjoy organic meats and drink lots of water.
  2. Move your body -- exercise daily makes you feel better, helps to clear your mind, helps to settle your stress and helps with your weight.
  3. Lose weight -- if you're overweight, even a minimal loss of 10 pounds can help you fight breast cancer.
  4. Give yourself regular BSE's -- regularly examining your own breasts goes a long way to helping your breast health. Know what your breasts feel like, be on the alert for things that feel differently.
  5. Get your mammograms regularly -- if there is a history of breast cancer in your family, tell your doctor. Regular mammograms help to catch breast cancer in its earliest stages which makes it more treatable and more curable.
  6. Know that if you do have breast cancer you can still have a wonderful life -- I am a witness that life after breast cancer does exist. A diagnosis of breast cancer does not have to be a death sentence. If you're single, you can still date. You can still be fun. You can still follow your dreams.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Half of American Adults May Have Pre-Existing Conditions Putting Them At Risk For Rejection by Health Insurers

Half of American Adults May Have Pre-Existing Conditions Putting Them At Risk For Rejection by Health Insurers

from Department of Health and Human Services

January 18 ,2011

Up to 129 million adults under age 65 have some medical condition which would put them at risk for being denied coverage by American health insurers, according to a U.S. government study. The conditions, ranging from cancer to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, or asthma, would trigger rejection or much higher prices in the individual health insurance market.

An invitation to guest blog on "My Fabulous B**bies"

New year, new me... new blog. :)

This year, I'd like to present my blog and the breast cancer journey in a new way. I am opening up my blog for guest posts from people who would like to speak about breast cancer (or fabulous boobies) and its affect on the world.

If you're interested... send me an email (send it directly to fabulous.boobies AT gmail.com) and let me know what you'd like to write about.

-250 words (can be a little more or a little less depending on the piece)
-answers the questions: how does/did breast cancer impact your life? what do you do to make sure that your boobies (or the boobies of people you love) stay fabulous?
-no profanity.
-images will need to be approved before posting.
-all submissions can be cross-posted to your own blog
-all submissions will be subject to review/editing before posting
-you decide the tone -- can be funny, sad, reflective, etc. totally up to you.

That's it!! I'm excited to see what other people may want to share with the breast cancer community. Nearly a quarter of a million people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. The impact on the world is major. I want to raise up a chorus of voices -- not just survivors either -- to discuss this disease and its effects on the entire world. I want to hear from mothers, fathers, children, friends, co-workers, health workers, employers, financial gurus, nutritionists, etc. ... anyone who has something to say.


MOTIVATION: a cancer survivor turned marathoner

The following article from Runner's World just brightened my day. I may not be ready for a marathon (yet), but its good to know that its possible. One step, then another step, then another step... until you reach the goal.

RW Challenger of the Week: Rob Wilkinson

Just a year and a half ago, radiation and chemotherapy treatments for tonsil cancer had left Rob Wilkinson so weak he could barely walk the stairs to his apartment. He even had to drive the 200 yards between his home and his office. “Any exertion would have required me to take an extensive nap,” he says.

Though he was never a runner before—for most of his life, he’d only run when he had to—after being declared cancer free in November 2009, Rob started running to rebuild his body from the ravages of chemotherapy and radiation. And somewhere along the way, he fell in love with it. He decided to spend his first year of being cancer-free by running the 2010 Richmond Marathon.

“I’m celebrating my life!” says Wilkinson. “Every run I do now is a celebration of my health, something I definitely took for granted before I was diagnosed and don’t intend on losing sight of again.”

He trained hard for the race, despite the lingering side effects from radiation and chemotherapy that he still experiences—dry mouth, tinnittus (ringing in the ears), and numbness in his feet.

At the Richmond Marathon he wore a shirt with the names of 30 people who had lost their battles with cancer, including his mother and four friends. His younger brother beat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the ’90s.

“I knew my body was going to give me 26.2 miles of reasons not to finish the challenge, but those 30 names on my shirt helped me see this through to the finish," he says. "Cancer in all its forms is a horrible disease, and I hope I’m able to help raise awareness for all those that have to endure it and their loved ones."

Rob crossed the line in 5:06, despite battling a screaming hip and headwinds on the Lee Bridge.

"I didn’t think it was possible to hurt that much," he says, "yet feel so incredibly good.

Name: Rob Wilkinson

Age: 41

Hometown: Fredericksburg, Virginia

Family: Fiancé, Tracie; stepchildren Kyle 19, Ericka 17, Grace 7, Lucy 6, Abbie 6

Occupation: Safety Engineer supporting the United States Marine Corps

RW Challenge Goal: Finish the 2010 Richmond Marathon

What was the race like for you? The race itself was very much like the treatments I endured; I went in with a positive attitude and believed that I would make it through. Along the way it hurt and at times tried to bring me to my knees, but I kept pushing through all the pain. After I completed my last cancer treatment, the nurses walked me over to a victory bell and had me ring it; I felt the same emotions then as I did when I crossed the finish line at Richmond. For the previous eight months, I had thought about what it would feel like striding to the finish line. What I imagined didn’t even come close to the elation of seeing the finish line and then crossing over it. The flood of tears came as it finally sunk in that I had actually completed a marathon; the same person that had to be fed by a tube 18 months prior and couldn’t walk 100 yards without needing to stop and rest had just run 26.2 miles!

How has the experience of finishing a marathon changed you? It may sound like a cliché, but it has made me feel that I really can do anything that I set my mind to.

What is your next running goal? I recently wrote my running goals down for 2011 and most of them are time-based for different race distances. I do want to do another marathon, but I haven’t picked the race yet—perhaps in my old hometown of Philly with the Runner’s World Challenge again?

What is your favorite piece of gear? I love my Garmin 405CX! I was getting bored of running the same loop over and over again because I knew the distance. I love the freedom it provides to just head out and mentally flip a coin every time I come to an intersection. The only downside to it is that I have ended up on some roads that I had no business running on!

What is your idea of a rave run? I can’t count the amount of times I visited Disney World as a kid and an adult. I have to do Disney as a runner! I can’t think of anything better than running through the Magic Kingdom and Epcot!

What is the biggest challenge to getting out the door, and how do you get over it? My life has changed so much in the past year, both personally and professionally, that my free time is limited. I just have to occasionally force myself to come home, throw on the shoes and just go. Additionally, I’m lucky that my fiancé is a new runner and she has been helping to kick my butt in gear when my motivation has been waning.

What advice would you give to a first-timer? Figure out how to stay motivated and continually use it to keep running. My initial motivation was to build myself up from what the cancer treatments did to my body. Now I find my motivation in training for a specific race or distance, as well as trying to influence others to give running a try. I’m proud of the fact that I have personally motivated a friend to start running. Nonrunners just don’t understand how supportive we are to each other, the bulk of us are never going to be an elite and are really just competing against ourselves. I think they would be surprised to see how often we reach out to total strangers to give encouragement during a difficult section of a race or to congratulate a good effort.