In Our Shoes: Raising the Voices of MBC Patients

Well, this is LONG overdue, but I’m finally feeling up to using my chemo-addled brain again! You may remember (or perhaps you never even knew) that last spring I conducted a survey of metastatic breast cancer patients. As I’m sure you’ve heard me say before, we are patients who often fall through the cracks when it comes to breast cancer advocacy. Sometimes we scare people, sometimes we don’t fit the mold, and sometimes we are forgotten – or pushed aside. As patients, we know our stories are hard ones to hear, but as so many advocates will tell you, there is no breast cancer advocacy without MBC advocacy. More

Speak Up!

It’s an ironic title for my first blog post in over a month, I know. But its been a truly insane summer, and sadly there hasn’t been time to blog. I’m optimistic that today’s post will turn things around, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

 

So, here’s what prompted today’s thoughts: I had a follow-up doctor’s visit this morning. When we entered the exam room John pointed out a posted announcement of an upcoming program under the heading: Patients Invited. The event is an upcoming lecture about BRCA in this it’s 20th anniversary year. The slate of speakers was impressive, but it was clear something was missing. There wasn’t a patient/advocate in the bunch.

Interesting, huh? After all the progress we have made, when clinicians come together to discuss a topic that is, from the patient perspective, so deeply wrapped up in emotions, their voices don’t even make the agenda. More

An N of 1

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impglobal.org

The most recent roller coaster ride seems to be coming to an end, though that sounds remarkably like “famous last words” – never good!

For those keeping score, here’s the update:

About four months ago I started on my third-line treatment – everolimus and exemestane. I started the treatment with trepidation. After nearly three months it seemed, to me, that I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. Tumor markers were rising (that’s not good) and the side effects weren’t great. So I started looking for “what’s next.” Time to look at my options – clinical trials.

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Third Line Therapy

Mphotoemories of another angst-filled day of sitting in bed waiting for the side effects of my first round of chemo playing tug-of-war with what I know must happen, I ask John to bring me my pills.

“The new ones?” he asks.

“I guess,” I grudgingly respond. Really, this is me? Really?

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Vast Study Casts Doubts on Value of Mammograms – NYTimes.com

Vast Study Casts Doubts on Value of Mammograms – NYTimes.com.

#BCNext

We are constantly confronted by “breast cancer marketing,” the barrage of pink, from funding free mammograms and research, to supporting individuals with cancer, some of whom can’t even afford child care and transportation to treatment. We range from those with strong family histories, whether BRCA positive or not, to those enduring treatment, to long-time survivors with metastatic breast cancer, to those we have loved and lost. We are each the face of breast cancer.

In America, and I presume elsewhere, there is a great divide between those of us on the ground, living with and dying from cancer – and the other side of breast cancer, those who make funding decisions and allocations of both donated and allocated dollars, private, public and NGO.

If you could have their ear for a moment, if you could tell them what YOU think, what YOU see, what YOUR breast cancer priority is? What if your voice, combined with others like you, like me, could help influence our future?

Comment below or tweet to #BCNext to join the dialogue and spread the word! Let your voice ring out!

Health Insurance: Consumer Good

Deadline-ClockAfter an 11th hour extension, today’s the day on which all, well most, Americans are supposed to be enrolled in a health insurance plan. And as a million users are trying to access a hopefully functional website, here’s my take on health insurance.

There’s been social media buzz about health care/health insurance costs, value, and the choices we make, and a general pondering about what these new exchange plans will actually provide. We’re reluctant to pay for health care, especially if we are young and well and believe in our own immortality. Though we gladly pay for vacations, we resent paying for health insurance. We don’t complain about the rising costs at Disneyland the way we do the rising costs of a PET scan or a prescription drug. And of course it makes sense – we work hard, if we can work at all, and the American Dream teaches that we should have some joy in life. When paying to stay alive is all we can do, resentment/frustration/anger follows naturally.

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Our Seat at the Table

seat-at-the-tableThis is going to be one of those posts that’s going to get me in hot water. That’s ok – I’ve been there before!

This week is the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, perhaps the largest and most noteworthy of them all from which emanates some of the biggest Breast Cancer headlines. The magnificent Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation provides a truly INCREDIBLE service to advocates (even above and beyond their scholarship program) by bringing together top people to summarize the day’s headlines. Tonight’s “mentor session” was live-streamed thanks to Dr. Jay K. Harness at BreastCancerAnswers.com.

As always the presentations and questions were outstanding. One sparked a little discussion in the twitter feed.

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A Good Year…

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From: shiratdevorah.blogspot.com

I recently stopped into a class being taught by one of the Rabbis at work. It was a primer about the Jewish High Holy Days – Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). I walked in as the Rabbi was talking about how we greet one another on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. In Hebrew we say “Shanah tovah u’metukah,” which interestingly doesn’t translate to Happy New Year.

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TAMOXIFEN UPDATE: Everyone Take A Breath, Not More Pills

Since I don’t think I could have said it any better, I have stolen (with permission) the post below from the always-amazing AnneMarie.

Yesterday, I had front row seats to see what happens when a story hits the media during a slow news cycle. People are tired of hearing about the fiscal cliff which I prefer to call by its “formal name.” Does anyone recall the word? Correct!

S-E-Q-U-E-S-T-R-A-T-I-O-N

No matter. It seems we are ready to hang glide but I’ve been too busy running around a two square block area in San Antonio to pay much attention to any news.

San Antonio is lovely. The Riverwalk is charming. San Antonio is bustling. There are researchers and clinicians and all sorts of folks in the breast cancer arena, from all over the globe, in that same two square blocks.

I am here as a patient advocate sponsored by the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation. We are a group of 31 advocates and we are a busy bunch. Yesterday, the day began at 6:15AM. Breakfast seminar. Then, presentations. Then, more presentations through lunch followed by an interview. (There will be a video posted on the ABCF website and IF I don’t look like a fool, I’ll be sure to share!) Then, a wrap up session on the official presentations and finally, a dinner seminar hosted by Novartis. The day ended at 10PM. Today will be the same. Ditto tomorrow.

This medical symposium is THE event for presentation of the latest in breast cancer research. Each paper gets presented in a 15 minute time slot. Perfect for a chemobrain! Not a chance of getting distracted. If I glance away from the screen for a second, they’ve already moved to the next slide. Yesterday, there was “Big News” expected. It was “The News” for this 35th Annual Symposium. More

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