Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pinky's Mammogram and Reminders

Hey there BFF’s…Every October I get my mammogram. I use the pink ribbon as my reminder just like using the month of October to remind us to change the batteries in our smoke detectors. It’s something easy that we can all do for ourselves and is a huge step towards early detection. Like you, I’m not crazy about having my small breasts squished in between those horrible paddles but I always know it only last a few minutes and it is way better than the alternative. On the bright side, being pink, it’s always fun to show up at the radiology center and meet new friends.

I have a staggering fact for you…did you know that 80% of breast cancers don’t run in families? That means that most of us are at risk for it even though no one in our family had it. So, what can we do to stay on top of early detection? With all of the controversy over when to start mammograms, the prevailing opinions are still recommending that screening mammograms begin at age 40 and continue each year thereafter. What has divided some on this issue is the fact that most women who get breast cancer are menopausal so the radiation exposure from mammograms beginning at age 40 versus the number of women diagnosed before the age of 50 may not be worth the risk. Everyone has to make the decision that is right for them. Regardless where you fall on this, just be sure to actually schedule your mammogram and not wait until you get around to it ;)

But did you know that there is another way to detect changes in your breast? I believe that breast self exams done properly can be effective. I know there is controversy over the effectiveness of these exams, but I’m here to tell you that my BFF, Kathy McEvoy, found her own tumor just three weeks after her mammogram came back negative. Her tumor was located at the sternum which could not be detected by a mammogram. Be sure to check the extreme perimeters of the breast when doing your breast self exams. Share this with your friends too, she was lucky and caught it because it would never be detected on a mammogram. So if you had any doubts about self exams, think if her.

So, as you can see, there are differing views on these simple preventative measures. The way I look at it, our breasts are one of the few organs we can actually examine ourselves and if we do it on a regular basis we become intimate with them and know when any changes occur. As we saw with my BFF, her tumor would never show up on a mammogram, which could be any of us. So let’s get intimate, know your girls!

I’m having lots of fun in October….how are you wearing your pink this month?

Pink Hugs,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My 5 Year Milestone is Finally Here!

It is with heartfelt happiness and gratitude that I share with everyone today…IT IS MY 5 YEAR MILESTONE FOR BEING BREAST CANCE FREE!!! Hold on, let me say it one more is my 5 year milestone for being breast cancer free!!! I can’t begin to tell you how it feels to finally get here. No, I am not letting my guard down in any way as I know it is possible for a recurrence at anytime but statistically speaking by virtue of making it to five years, my odds just got a whole lot better. I like the way that sounds :).
So, how do I plan to celebrate this very special day that I have been waiting so long for??? The truth is I will be celebrating tomorrow on October 14. I am hosting a Celebration of Life luncheon for my friends. I have asked them to wear pink, there will be pink everywhere, we’ll play silly games and learn about breast cancer. I have asked them to join me in supporting women who need financial assistance as they undergo breast cancer treatment by donating to The Tigerlily Foundation. It’s important to me to use the occasion not only to educate others but to help the sheroes who are fighting for their lives.

As many of you know, Celebrate In Pink partyware came about as a result of my breast cancer journey. I will be very proudly using the partyware at my celebration and honor the tremendous amount of dedication it has taken me to get it this far. It is this very type of celebration that inspired me to design a collection that women could use to show how they feel and the good that they innately want to be a part of.

So, this is MY day and it will be one of the most fabulous days of my life! It is the reason why so many of my days are filled with gratitude as I don’t take any of them for granted and try to make the most of each and every one….I hope that you do too…here’s to a day of celebrating and I wish us many many more!

My Personal Celebration...Won't You Join Me?

Monday, October 11, 2010

When Loss Brings Gain

Thank you to Vanessa Maddox, Founder of TheGirlfriendGroup for sharing how the loss of her beloved sister turned into something that she never imagined. The memory of her sister is still alive through the wonderful women in TheGirlFriendGroup, be sure to check in with is her inspirational story....

On June 12, 2009 I experienced a tremendous loss.

My eldest sister Valerie passed away suddenly. I realize that people lose relatives everyday, but the difference here is that we didn’t know Val was sick. We later found out that she passed away from heart disease exacerbated by her asthma.

Val was a teacher of children. She taught for 33 years and loved every minute of it. She was also a single parent to a child with multiple learning disabilities. She raised her daughter, my niece to age 30. Her girlfriends were a huge part of that. They were her friends, her support system, her counselors and her confidantes.

Growing up with Val as an older sister was great. She taught me a lot. A lot about life, a lot about friends, a lot about being a thoughtful, caring person. She taught me a lot of the importance of Girlfriends in a woman’s life.

That brings us to the gain.

After my two-month depression, I called my cousin Naomi and told her I wanted to pay tribute to Val in some way. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but God brought it to me on August 22, 2009. TheGirlfriendGroup.

TheGirlfriendGroup is a global, online community for women. Our focus is the total woman from all walks of life. We host events, we mentor young women, we hold networking opportunities and we will be launching The Girlfriend Education Series in Q1 of 2011. There are no barriers to entry. The only requirement is that you’re a woman that is willing to network with other women, share information and encourage one another. Network. Share. Encourage is our motto.

The group was started on my family room sectional for less than $100. Less than a year later we went from the original 15 members to over 235 members; all organic growth, no budget, no fancy social media strategy. Just inspiration and determination. If you look for the good in everything and are open to taking new paths that may appear, anything in life is possible.

The most wonderful part of TGG is that Val’s influence and spirit exists in every facet of the group. The TTG is very much dedicated to the many other strong women in my life such as my mom, sisters and Girlfriends. It is their love and support that continue to give me the inspiration and motivation that makes TGG so fabulous!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Where Did the Pink Ribbon Come From?

Breast cancer awareness month has just begun! Throughout the month I will share various information and tidbits about breast cancer. I was always curious as to how the pink ribbon became associated with breast cancer, are you? I thought that was a great place to start so here we go:

In the early 1990s, a 68 year old woman by the name of Charlotte Haley used the same concept when her daughter, grandma and sister were all diagnosed with breast cancer. To raise awareness, she began making ribbons in the color of peach and attaching them to cards. These cards contained information about the annual budget of the National Cancer Institute and how only a small portion of this budget was being spent on cancer research and prevention. The card urged people to contact their legislators to make a change in this and to wear the ribbons to raise awareness.

In 1991, Evelyn Lauder of the Estee' Lauder Corporation and Alexandra Penney of Self Magazine were putting together a special insert piece for the October edition of Self magazine to recognize breast cancer awareness month. They heard about the peach ribbons and contacted Haley to determine if they could use them. Haley declined claiming it would make the cause commercialized, and that it would lose its grassroots appeal. However, Lauder and Penney really wanted to use the ribbon concept, so they consulted with their legal departments to see what they could do. The legal departments finally agreed they could use the ribbons as long as they changed the color. They chose pink, and the breast cancer awareness pink ribbon concept has grown from there.

So it’s been around for about 20 years and it’s amazing how fast the icon took off and now appears everywhere. I love that the color pink was chosen as I feel it really captures the essence of women. I also love how we as a sisterhood have taken this ribbon to extraordinary lengths to bring about change for women everywhere. While we still have a long way to go to eradicate this disease we have certainly made great strides to save more lives…all thanks to the little pink ribbon….We couldn't help but add a heart to our Celebrate In Pink ribbon...from our heart to yours....