It's October and everywhere I look I am seeing pink pink pink! This makes me happy, because it wasn't that long ago that this subject was taboo. One of my friends, Sandi Berri, is a breast cancer survivor and has been doing something wonderful with her Facebook posts this month. Each day, she is posting what she learned about breast cancer while going through it! I think it is SO important for us to remember the women and men behind Pinktober. Each time I see a pink awareness ribbon, I don't see just a cause- I see a person. This is an incredibly empowering act as a volunteer- it keeps me focused on WHY I am working so hard to raise funds. When things get frustrating or hard, it is the SURVIVORS and the fighters that keep me pushing forward.
Today I want to share Sandi's posts for the first 7 days of October (with her permission, of course!). Sandi is a teacher, and I really appreciate the way she is teaching us all this month.
October 1! Since this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I shall share things I have learned about this disease. 1.) You can have Breast Cancer but not have a lump or a mass. Mine started in the mammary ducts. Although it was in an area 6cm X 5.5cm X 12cm (yes! Centimeters not millimeters) there was no lump or mass. That is why mammograms are encouraged. I noticed skin rash, bruising and itching and called for a mammogram!
Oct.2! Lesson #2. My cancer was fueled by estrogen. Had I gotten a hysterectomy earlier in my life, it would have decreased my risk by 25%! Not one doctor nor gynocologist suggested it, instead, one decided I needed something else that actually increased my risk by 18%! We trust doctors but ask questions, gain knowledge, and now we can google the heck out of stuff! Use the internet before you make a decision! Avoid ALL hormone replacement and birth control if you have a risk of cancer!
Oct 3. What I learned #3. Medicine has changed greatly in the 30 years since my mother's diagnosis. Now they can tell how fast it grows, the cell make up, estrogen and progesterone reception, and other traits to best treat that specific cancer. Mine was growing 10 times the rate of the average growth rate of a cancer and considered very aggressive but because it is still hormone receptive, the doctor says we can control it better. My chances will never be zero but the longer we go without it coming back the lower my chances of having cancer again will be. I have meet many women who had cancer 15 or 20 years ago and are still going strong! They all inspire me!
Oct 4. #4! You are not alone! I was comforted by the many family and friends that supported me for which I am eternally grateful. I was surprised to learn some of my friends had already experienced Beast Cancer before I knew them, and was befriended by many that learned of my diagnosis and wanted to help with advice and encouragement! As one friend put it, we are sisters now! I honor those that went before us into this battle who have volunteered for research, which my mother was a part of. I praise the ones still fighting bravely, and I pray for the researchers to find a real cure! I am glad I have a God of love, strength, encouragement, faith, and bravery for He sent me His angels on Earth to help me through! Trecia Harper, Cynthia Taliaferro Malone, Dona Henson Sherrill, Shirley Hilliard, Oleta E. Bryant, Stacy Walker Cooper, Stacyia Stiletto Dillard, Christy Edelen's Mom, and many others!
Oct 5. #5! Cancer is called the silent killer because there is not usually any pain, especially with breast cancer. There are however, other signs so listen to your body! Every year when schools starts it takes me about two weeks to adjust my sleep patterns. Last year after about 6 weeks, I was still wiped out when I came home from school, I would get real sleepy driving from school or long drives on the weekend. I couldn't get through a Saturday or Sunday without a nap or fall asleep at 9pm! This continues the rest of the first semester. My body was working so hard trying to fight what was going on, I was worn out but at the time I didn't know, I just thought I was getting old, needed vitamins, even got a B12 shot! Then when the other symptoms showed up (and I googled them) I scheduled a mammogram. Please, listen to your body, sometimes it is yelling for help! Ladies, if you can't get your mammogram this month, go ahead and schedule it for your regular screening, that way it is done and set! But if your body says, "Hey!" Like mine did between mammograms, better listen and get it checked out ASAP! Better safe than sorry! Mine was a close one!
Lesson #6! Sugar! It causes many problems! Diabetes, obesity, and it feeds cancer cells! With today's availability of foods we are overloading our systems with sugars and carbs that act as sugars. When I do a PET scan I go 24 hours without sugar and carbs then they inject a sugary substance to see if there is any activity of excited cells because the cancer up takes the sugar faster than normal cells. Beware of sugar and carbs if you are at risk. Happy Tuesday!
**Side note from Cassi**
You can read more about sugar and cancer here from MD Anderson: Does cancer love sugar?
and here: from The Mayo Clinic.
Oct. 7 #7! You find out the strength of your family and friends relationship! Blake has been my rock! He has been so patient and understanding with me. My children have stepped up and done the little things of daily life for me and Haley has been so helpful! My entire family has been my support, brother, sister, and nieces and nephews! My friends have provided encouragement with phone calls, prayers, cards, and Facebook! I have the most compassionate fellow workers and the best school where I teach! They helped me so much and it was my first year there! They didn't even really know me! Lol! I can't tell you how much all that means to me! It is hard for me to rely on someone else but for the last year I have learned to lean on others a bit. Not sayin it will be a habit, but for right now, I appreciate the help. This lesson was learning to allow others to help you! I am fiercely independent and just letting someone help me out of bed was hard! But I am learning that it is okay to ask for help!
Thank you for your insight, Sandi! If you like posts like this, let me know in the comments below!