Dress With Ease has donated THREE $45 Gift Certificates to their store. Adaptive clothing from Dress With Ease will be helpful for anyone who has recently had a mastectomy, lumpectomy, or sentinel node removal, or even reconstructive surgeries that make raising the arms difficult.
Our goal for DressWithEase is already in the name, to provide you or anyone you love with clothing that can be worn, well, easily. We want to be able to provide you with Adaptive Clothing that suits your needs, while also introducing different colors, patterns, and designs to keep things interesting. Please be sure to pop in our store every once in a while to check out what’s new! And if you have any ideas in mind for some Adaptive Clothing options we could possibly make for you that you feel would help you and many others like you make sure to let us know. Help us, help you.
Our Adaptive Clothing line is made special for ANYONE who struggles with anything from simply putting on a T-shirt to slipping on a dress. We have been making these clothes for two decades, and we have had the pleasure of aiding people who have either: had surgery, suffered from strokes, become bedridden, suffered from an injury, or just found putting on regular clothes by themselves to be too daunting of a task.
As a writer, I’ve never liked clichés much, but there are a few that ring true to me as I get older, and one of them is “Coming from a place of Yes.” This really is a meaningful phrase for me now that I am a breast cancer survivor.
Because, as I can see now, I’ve spent most of my life coming from a place of “No.”
Growing up I was chubby and at times awkward, a kid who loved playing basketball but got embarrassed by my hot, red “sweaty tomato” face. Interested in the dramatic arts, but mostly relegated to the set crew. I often saw the world in terms of what was for me and what wasn’t. Eying girls in Seventeen Magazine who were waifish with long straight hair and perfect skin, I got used to thinking, “No, that’s not me.” “No” became my default setting after a while. No, I’m not pretty enough for the lead in the play. No, I’m not smart enough to join the debate team. No, I’m not popular enough to get elected to student government.
And, this thinking stayed with me as I went through adolescence and young adulthood. No, I wasn’t polished enough to land the job I really wanted. No, I wasn’t worth a second date. No, I wasn’t going to get a raise. And so on. This kind of thinking invaded my life to the extent that over time I began to experience a lot of anxiety. Among other things, I was a pretty bad hypochondriac, and I think that had a direct impact on my health because I became so used to combatting my panicked thoughts about my health that when I felt a lump in my right breast I told myself I was imagining it and put off seeing a doctor for much longer than I care to think about now.
I spent many years watching my friends and co-workers rise through the ranks, start their own businesses, go to grad school and travel overseas while I convinced myself that I wasn’t going to get anywhere—in my career or in the world and I even developed a fear of flying. On a smaller scale, I would watch people dance at a wedding or sing karaoke and sit it out worried about looking silly on the dance floor or my not-so-great singing voice. I might have thought I had a long life ahead of me back then, but I wasn’t really living. I often saw my life as a waiting game. Waiting for things to change. Waiting until I lost weight. Waiting until my boss finally appreciated me. And, then, in May of 2014 at the age of 43 I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.
At first my anxiety took over, and I breathlessly and sleeplessly navigated through the dark fear of losing my life—of leaving my husband and children without me for the rest of their lives, of breaking the hearts of my parents and other loved ones. But, once I got into treatment and stared down the true risk of not making it through, I found my fighting spirit. I faced a hairless, breastless, potentially futureless me, and something shifted. It was gradual, but it was significant. Here’s what happened: I started to see the things I was afraid of before, the things I was so quick to say “no” to, as, just perhaps, being FOR me.
The only no’s I hung on to were related to giving up. No, I’m not going to go down without a fight. No, I’m not going to stop doing the activities I enjoy. No, I will not become a victim. And then, I decided to experiment with “yes.” I sought out what it would feel like to get on the dance floor at the weddings and bar mitzvahs I was invited to. I started interviewing for jobs at organizations and in fields I had always wanted to work. I took the honeymoon trip to London my husband and I were going to take in 2002 but put off. In short, I began to say yes to things big and small that I finally realized I wasn’t going to do if I lived my life waiting. Yes, I realize that’s another cliché. “What are you waiting for?” but, seriously, what was I waiting for?
Here’s what my life is like now that I’ve learned to say yes: I am famous—infamous perhaps—
for my crazy moves on the dance floor. I have a go-to karaoke song that I sing loud and proud despite my near tone-deafness. I’ve been to London—and Utah and Alaska—in just the past two years. I left a job I’d held for 12 years to pursue my dream of working in public radio. And, now the only downside is that I love my life so much I’m afraid to lose it. Yes, I want to be there for my kids and I want to make my parents and friends proud, but mostly I want to continue challenging myself and finding the joy that I never allowed myself before.
There’s room for you—for everyone—here at yes. But, there’s no waiting. Bring your dance moves, your favorite 80s rock song, and your travel itinerary. Then, let me know what you’re saying yes to now.
Rebecca Weiss is a 46-year-old breast cancer survivor whose life changed completely when she was diagnosed as stage 3 in 2014. A journalist and corporate communications professional, in 2015 she started Bob’s Boxes, a 501c3 nonprofit that sends post-mastectomy care packages to women with breast cancer. Rebecca has appeared on the Today Show, was featured in Parents Magazine and the book Live Happy; and serves as a Model of Courage in Ford’s Warriors In Pink campaign. She lives in Rutherford, New Jersey with her husband and two young children. You can find Rebecca on Twitter and Instagram @BobsBoxes, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Bobsboxesorg/ and at www.bobsboxes.org
We had a request from a member asking if we could put together some polls regarding some statistics such as age, cancer types, treatments, etc. We would like you to know that this information is used merely for our members to see the similarities and differences among us. We will not use this for any other reason. You are not a guinea pig.
The lovely Kristy Irizarry has donated this adorable brunette bob wig. This synthetic bob with bangs has never been worn. It is brown with light brown/blonde highlights. Kristy will also include a wire wig stand to the winner.
The unsung heroes of the cancer community are those that take care of their loved ones after they have gotten the cancer diagnosis. From the first mournful hours of just receiving a diagnosis to the aches and pains of treatment and surgeries through the joy of the triumphant “no evidence of disease,” caregivers hold their cancer patients up with loving arms. Their devotion is often perceived as unnoticed and underappreciated. But let me promise you, your warrior knows what you do and couldn’t fight this battle without you.
Many of our members expressed gratitude to their significant other/spouse for their committed
love and caring during their cancer journey. “My husband is my rock,” explains Michelle F. “I tell him all the time that he is vital to my recovery.” Some husbands who worked all day, returned home just to take care of the house, the kids, and their patient all at the same time. “He works all day and then comes home to take care of me and the kids. He’s my hero,” continues Michelle F.
Another member stated how her husband was her biggest cheerleader. “He shaved my head when hair started coming out and told me how beautiful I looked.” says Shelia B. “He promised to love me in sickness and in health. And he did! [He] had pink wrist bands made that said, ‘Sheila’s Soldiers.’ He gave them to friends and family as a visual reminder to pray for me.”
Kathy F. has thanked her husband for taking care of things without being asked and without complaints so that she can concentrate on getting well. He replied saying, “Just doing my job!” Kathy expresses that she is one very lucky woman because she has him by her side.
LaChelle M. says of her husband, “He has been there to help me through this process. He makes me laugh. He is very understanding when the awful side effects kick in and is always telling me to take it easy.”
“He has been with me every step of the way!” exclaims Judy O. of her husband of 44 years. “While dealing with my diagnosis, he had a heart attack and needed 4 stints in his heart. We were in it together! He has waited on me hand and foot, clucked and fussed over me. I realized caring for my every need was his way of dealing. I can’t thank him or love him enough for what he has done for me!
“My husband, Enrique, not only nursed his first wife until she passed away at 39 from Breast Cancer, but sat with me through all my treatment and surgeries too. He must have just died inside when I told him I also had Breast Cancer. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Joanna R. says of her hero hubby.
For others, caregiving has become a family affair. “These are my caregivers,” exclaims Shannon K. “They each help me in their own ways. My hubby, Greg helps with all the driving and cleans up the house. My oldest daughter, Alicia, helps with
watching her siblings almost every day. My two youngest, Graciella and Wayland, help me forget and keep me happy.”
“My biggest support is my daughter Allie. She tells me when my wig is crooked,” laugh Jennifer H. “She’s my light.”
Doreen S. speaks highly of her son, “He’s such a great kid. [He] helps out and never complains.”
Daughter, Danielle, had her mom, Barbara G., move in with her. “She made us move in with her before surgery so her dad would have help taking care of me.”
“My daughter has been by my side the whole time,”says Amy C. She hasn’t missed a treatment. She’ll be having my grandson within days of my last treatment and surgery.” When told her grandson would be a wonderful gift upon
ending treatment, Amy says, “Lil Emmett and I will forever have a special bond. We have both been fighting for our lives the past 6 months. She’s not had an easy pregnancy with the stress of my diagnosis. But we’ve made it.”
Kelly L’s dad graciously flew down for 8 weeks to take care of all the cooking, cleaning, and the kids after she had her DIEP flap surgery.
My own mom was my caregiver. She not only took care of me but also my kids. As a single mom, going through cancer treatments interferes greatly in one’s ability to parent sometimes. While some days I was able
to be as hands on as I always had been, others were spent in bed sleeping, healing from the effects of chemotherapy. My mom did everything for me, for the house, for my stepdad, and for the kids. She is a rockstar!
The light that kept me going, though, was probably my daughter. She would lay in my bed and watch Netflix with me. She kept me giggling and lighthearted. She waited on me while my mom was busy with other things. She constantly made sure I had enough water by my bed. She even stayed with me in the hospital a couple times when I was sick. Most of all her love for me helped me realize why I was fighting to stay alive.
Caring doesn’t always have to be in person. “Each week I was doing chemo and radiation, Ria [my daughter-in-law] and my grands, Kayla and Sophia, would send a beautiful hand made card or a care package of fun goodies to make me smile and brighten my day,” smiles Shelia B.
Friends are also a great source of comfort. “My dearest friend from school, 45 years ago, we
ended up getting connected when I went home in the summer,” explains Evelyn S. When she found out I had cancer, her first thing was she needed to come see me.” Evelyn continues, “It is like we just picked up where we left off 45 years ago. I did my final bra burning ceremony last night.”
Patty W. is blessed with a “neighbor and good friend [that] takes me to appointments.”
Like many others, I found solace in my dogs as well. Wasabi is our black lab who spent hours on end laying in bed with me during treatment. When I was gone for surgery or any time I was in the hospital I would skype with him like I would my kids. He brought joy into my life with his never ending love and devotion.
Sally S. says, “My dog Benny was by my side and watching every blood pressure check and shot I had at home. He knew when I felt bad and would be very gentle laying next to me and usually he’s a hyper fellow.”
Amy C. speaks similarly of her dog, Zoey, who would stay be her side until her caregivers returned home.
Even cats got in on the caregiving! Kathy F. says, “We call [Pris] our ‘nurse cat.’ She is right there to provide comfort. From the time I got my letter saying my mammogram was irregular, she has been by my side (or in my lap). She even sleeps with me. If I get up in the night, she follows me until I go back to bed, then cuddles against me until I go back to sleep.”
As you can see, caregivers come in all shapes and sizes, but all create a loving environment for our breast cancer patients to fight for their lives and heal from the side effects of treatment.
When creating this blog, I asked members what they would say to their caregivers if they had the chance. All of them said, “Thank you!”
Taylor Eames is a single mom of four living in Yuma, Arizona, who was diagnosed with triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma in January of 2016. She openly chronicled her experience during treatment and continuing through the aftermath on TaylorTough on Facebook. Taylor is one of the founders of Breast Cancer Sisters along with her dear friend, Kristy Irizarry.
Fight Apparel Designs has donated $50 store credits* to two lucky winners. Company owner, Elise Bethel, is a fellow stage four cancer fighter and survivor. (*Due to Etsy policy, the prize is a $50 store credit towards a $60 order.)
Fight Apparel is a JESUS loving Christian Apparel line. We all fight something in life, whatever yours is, with The Lord on your side, you WILL win! “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still” Exodus 14:14.
Fight Apparel was started as a way for owner, Elise, to share and spread God’s name and His great works through apparel that allows you to wear your faith! Each piece of apparel is inspired by her own personal fight. At the age of 32, Elise is fighting Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer. While inspired by her own fight, the apparel applies to us all as in life we all fight something!
I survived something that could have killed me. I made it through with the prayers and help from my family, my friends, and my co-workers.
I was consumed by the emotions of fear and shock after receiving my diagnosis; everything moved quickly and was a blur. First were the chemo treatments, followed by a Bilateral Mastectomy and finally reconstruction. That was it; I was done: I was told “there’s no evidence of disease”. I was beyond excited and relieved, I had done it, and I had survived! It was time to get back to my life the way it was before breast cancer; everyone around me had already moved on, so why can’t I?
Every day I’m reminded that I had breast cancer. When I walk out of the shower in the morning, I can’t help but see the scars on my chest in the bathroom mirror. Scars from the port surgeries are sometimes visible to others, but the large scars that haunt me are big and only seen by me and my husband. They run from my sternum to under my arms and are intersected by another scar that goes up to where my nipples used to be. There are more scars under my arms from where the lymph nodes were removed and the drains inserted. I can’t help but remember when I first looked at myself a couple of days after surgery and how horrified I was at what I saw. I looked like something out of a horror movie. My breasts were gone and in their place I had large, angry looking incisions that had been sewn together. I had horrible bruising, drainage tubes coming out of me, and I had no nipples. Had I made the right choice? This decision truly had been mine, and I thought I was prepared, but I wasn’t.
Every day I am frustrated by an increased anxiety which I do not understand and cannot seem to get under control. It hits randomly and sometimes viciously. I get apprehensive in groups of people, or when I’m waiting for something or someone. It makes my stomach upset, so I never go anywhere without finding the nearest restroom and knowing my escape route. It limits me and makes me wish somedays that I never had to leave my house.
Every day I think about how I need to lose weight, how I should be eating only “healthy” foods and exercising. But I’m tired, my energy hasn’t fully returned. When I come home from work all I want to do is sit on the couch. I try to not drink anything out of a plastic bottle, and I no longer use regular deodorant; instead I use the natural stuff because it’s supposed to be better for me. I have no idea what caused my breast cancer; if I only knew then I would be certain to never eat or drink it again, or to never use that product anywhere.
Every day I get hot flashes. My coworkers are all cold, and many have heaters on- not me, I’ve got my fan on, and I dress like it’s summer, even in the dead of a Minnesota winter.
Every day I try to get back to where I was before breast cancer, but I can’t. You see my sister is dying from breast cancer. Her cancer came back, even though she had done everything right. She ate healthier, she exercised, and she had had Chemo, a Bilateral Mastectomy, Radiation and reconstruction. Still, it came back with a vengeance. She too had been told there was “no evidence of disease”.
I know I need to move on and not live with the fear of it coming back, but I don’t know how to do that. I hope that over time my scars and anxiety will fade, and my confidence will come back just like my hair has. In the meantime, I will do my best to carry myself like the warrior that I am. I will strive to see the best in everyone and in every situation. Most importantly, I will pray and rejoice that I have been given a second chance. I will be thankful for every day that I have been given, for every sunrise and sunset, for every bird I hear chirping, every flower I’m able to smell and for the time I spend with my family, my friends and my coworkers; because without them, I may not have made it this far.
In Oct 2015, Sheryl was diagnosed with IDC. Both of her sisters had previously had breast cancer, so it really shouldn’t have been a surprise to her, but it was. She went through chemo followed by a bilateral mastectomy, and in July of 2016, she had reconstruction. She did not need radiation as my cancer was Stage 1.
At the beginning of December, on my birthday I gave myself a very peculiar gift. I found a lump in my right breast. A little round, pea sized, lump. My breath stopped by the idea, by the feeling, by the enormity of it.
What did I do? I went on google. The biggest mistake a person could make? Probably, so. I went to my husband. His breath stopped.
Yank’s worst nightmare? His mom had breast cancer, 23 years ago. Nightmare, shitload of it, the feeling of the biggest fear and a nightmare in one package. My husband was 12 years old at that time. Yes, he is not that scared boy anymore. He is now a father and a husband, scared.
The internet wasn’t enough. So I decided to have it over with and set a doctor’s appointment.
The week after the peculiar gift was given to me by me I was with my husband and his mom in the hospital to begin this story.
It started with the American classic, the financial and the health insurance. Even after ten years living the American insanity of the health insurance system or un-system, I still find this absolutely crazy. My European brain is still unused to the idea that a sick person needs to clear with the financial side first and then maybe deal with the sickness.
The activation of my “Cancer resource services.” I admit I left that for the last minute. I didn’t want to deal with the word cancer, it scared me. Sorry, my husband, I left it on you. I had to. I was too sick in my stomach. Too scared by that word.
After the stroll to the financial department I had to fill around 30 pages of my family history. To the question on page 28, “No, I don’t have the Alzheimer’s. If I had that I would have forgotten, what to fill by that time.” “But thanks, that question definitively uplifted my mood.” The words around me: “Last radiation,” “my chemo,” all that was making me giddy with my nerves.
First examination: “It looks good. The lump is nice and round.” The doctor’s calming voice sounded in the background to my heart beats in my ears. “The risk is minimal, you are young and healthy, no background of breast cancer in your family.”
Second examination: Mammogram, one floor up, changed into a pink stripe standard robe. I entered the realm of pink, pink for the breast cancer ribbon? All the women around me, dressed the same. My husband sitting with his mom in a different waiting room. Divided but nervous the same. I have my book with me. I can read and not think. Mammogram, what a strange machine for women with small breasts. I have to hug and hang on the monster, my legs wrapped around it just to be able to have my breasts squeezed in it.
Third examination: The same floor, a little bit further in, it seems that the further I move in, the further I am being sent into that special club. The club I don’t want to be a member in. My sister-in-law came in, to cheer me, to lift my mood. Yes, it helped. Every cheer helps, even if it’s just for that moment, that second, your brain moves into a different realm. An ultrasound, the last time I had an ultrasound done I was pregnant, I heard the heartbeat of that tiny worm growing inside of me. The heartbeat made me so happy, the last time I had an ultrasound done. I am the only person now who can hear the heartbeat, the heart beat in my throat.
“Somebody cancelled a biopsy. We have time in half an hour.” “Sure, I want that.” I answer while thinking about the woman who cancelled hers. Why would she do that?
Fourth examination: A biopsy. I am scared, a little, not much, a little. The doctor describes every move she does. I prefer to look at the blank ceiling. A pity, some nice picture on the ceiling would be nice. “You are right, the TV behind your head, they installed recently is kinda for nothing.” Agrees that nice nurse. “I gave you, inside your lump a little mark. Just so that we can find it in a case of surgery. Don’t worry you won’t set any airport security.” “The results? Tomorrow, maybe Monday.”
Fifth examination: Mammogram, yet again, just that breast, now with a mark and a bandage.
Finally outside. My husband and my mother-in-law relieved, hugging, ready to go. The doctor again: “It looks good. We will know everything after the biopsy but it looks good. It’s so small the mammogram didn’t find it. Sleep well.”
Relieved? Sure. Exhaustion more like it. Waiting.
The day after: Friday, December 16th at work, my phone is ringing. “Sure, I have time.” “Unfortunately the biopsy shows invasive cancer cells.” My breath stops, but this time it doesn’t want to start again. She talks and talks, and I cannot breathe, my throat is tight, so tight. Why am
I crying? Nobody died. “What? No, I don’t need anything. I am fine, just fine.” Breathe in and out, in and out. Just get her to stop talking. I don’t want to talk to her. I don’t want to hear her.
I call my husband. He is not picking up. I am shaking. I call my mother-in-law. “Oh, God, God.” I am going to her. I need to hug and hold somebody. I tell my coworkers something about bad results. On a way out I call my mum. “Oh God, God.” It’s not even funny that they both said the same thing, in different languages, two mothers. I will never forget their voices. The same breathless responses.
I am sick in my stomach. I am in shock. My mother-in-law is waiting for me at the door. She holds me. It helps. Breathe.
Anna is a 37 year old mother of three year old boy. She is originally from Prague, Czech Republic, but has been living in NYC for the last 10 years together with her Brooklyn born husband. On December 16th, 2016, she got the life shattering news that the lump she found in her breast is actually not nothing but something…something called cancer. She decided to start a blog, CzechMomNYC, about her experience and about a life of a mother with breast cancer diagnosis. She and my husband also started a photo project of their lives as it is now, fighting this horrible hidden enemy. Follow their project on Facebook.
Jamie Rivers of JonzGemz has donated this Pink Sisters Water Bottle. The bottle itself has a pink tint and the wording is light pink with a dark pink ribbon. This Autospout water bottle is BPA free and leak proof. It has a spout shield and is perfect for one handed drinking.
I was diagnosed in Dec 2016 with Breast Cancer at the age of 44. I knew for years that I had a high chance of getting the disease because my mother was diagnosed at 42. I had very dense breast tissue so it was very difficult to feel anything unusual as everything felt like a lump to me. My mom and I both had the BRAC1/2 performed in 2009, which was negative…. thank God!
Every year from that time though I needed extra testing, either addition Mammograms or biopsies because of my dense breast tissue. However, this past year when they sent me for the MRI after having my first 3D Mammogram and then an ultra sound, I knew it was different.
Because of the holiday, I had to wait 4 weeks to have my Bi-lateral Mastectomy. I opted to do that verses possibly having radiation. I wasn’t upset about losing my breast as they have always been an issue for me as well as having sagged because of my losing a large amount of weight back in 2009.
My surgery was scheduled for Jan 11, 2017 for the mastectomy and reconstruction. However, the most infuriating part of this which added to my stress was that my boss laid me off the day before my surgery! Now I have to search for a job during my period of recuperating! The worst part is trying to figure out the whole medical/Obama Care aspect of this. As I had no income my health insurance premium went through the roof. I wanted to keep it because with the surgery being in Jan, I met and exceeded my deductible. So now everything is paid except that high premium!
After the surgery, I finally met with the oncologist and they told me that I had several other precancerous lumps in my other breast. I am glad I went with the bilateral! She told me that I had lobular carcinoma in situ stage 2A, Grade 2, ER/PR positive and HER2 Negative, but I had 3 out of 12 lymph nodes positive. The oncologist wanted to do further testing on my lumps from the Mastectomy. I had to go for a PET Scan and they sent my cells to a lab in California. I had to wait 3 weeks for all the results. The report said that if I take Tamoxifen I have only a 10% chance of cancer returning. My only concern is that my gynecologist says that I am in menopause, but since removing my IUD, we’ve realized that is not the case. Everything I have read says that I should have my ovaries removed because of the history and being ER+. My oncologist says it doesn’t matter, but I am waiting to hear back from my gynecologist. I believe either way, I want them removed!
I have to say that the biggest supporter has been my dad. I feel bad as he had to go through this with my mother, not only with her breast cancer but with two bouts of lung cancer! Regardless, he has gone with me to most of my appointments. I don’t know what I would do without him!
I do have two high school children that have also helped when asked. But I am having more of an issue with my kids especially my daughter. Back in 2009, I got a divorce, and we moved from PA to FL. I believe she blames me for everything even though, with the advice of her therapist, I told her the real reason why we divorced and moved. He cheated! All she does is spend time in her room isolating herself. It is making me depressed as she would not even go to a movie that she wanted to see!
Some other support I have found is on Facebook or other breast cancer websites. I am just getting out there, so I don’t know too many other people yet. I also just went this past week to a church support group which was very helpful. My only concern originally going was that everyone was going to be in their 60s or older as I live in Gulf Coast, FL. But that wasn’t the case.
After all the research and talking with others, I can’t believe how many different forms of Breast Cancer there are. It is all very overwhelming.
I’m getting my last expander fill for my reconstruction this week March 22, 2017, so I hope to have my implant in around the end of May. That would be a great birthday present!!
I haven’t had any side effect for the Tamoxifen. I have been more interested in learning about Essential oils. I am starting to check this out, so if anyone can provide some insight!
I have to say that I have been handling the cancer pretty well. I am keeping a positive outlook and hoping that I find an enjoyable job!
Lauren Miscannon is a single mother of 2 living in Venice, FL. She is 44 years old and just diagnosed in Dec 2016. She is currently only receiving tamoxifen and should have reconstruction surgery in 8 weeks or so.