Our Cancer Care Gift Tote is the perfect gift for anyone newly diagnosed or going through surgery, radiation, or even chemotherapy. Designed by our very own cancer survivors, this heavyweight tote includes everything necessary for medical appointments, treatments, hospital stays or just lounging at home. Screened with our inspirational trademarked phrase, “No One Fights Alone,” the tote has a secured zipper main compartment with a curved zippered front pocket. It allows for easy storage of cell phones, tablets, keys, appointment cards, notebooks, etc. Made of 600D polyester canvas, it measures 14″ x 18″ x 3.5″. It’s better than your ordinary gift basket and filled with the following very special items:
Soft Plush Blanket – Comfy and warm. Measures 50″ x 60″, 100% polyester, machine washable. Colors vary (please see photos).
Dionis Lip Balm – Infused with nourishing goat’s milk and antioxidant Vitamin E. Free of parafin, phthalate and gluten (Vanilla Bean flavor).
Dionis Body Lotion – Specially blended formula full of goat’s milk, vitamins and proteins needed to replenish moisture. Fragrance free makes it perfect for cancer patients.
The Cancer Care Tote is truly one of the nicest things that you can do for someone who has just been diagnosed. All items are of the highest quality and have been carefully designed and manufactured to make the cancer journey a little more bearable. And with a variety of cancer colors to choose from, this is a a thoughtful and useful gift that is sure to be appreciated!
Saturday, December 17th. It’s snowing, everything is white, calm and clean, I am playing with my little guy outside. It’s been a day since I learned that I have breast cancer. The snow is falling. I am exhausted, the same goes for my husband, our little guy is laughing and playing.
No, I am not going to pretend to be tough and say that the next days were easy and fun. Did I fall apart? Probably. I don’t remember much. There is a feeling of this big black hole that opened inside of me, and I had no idea how to close it. That feeling didn’t last long, an hour or two, and then an exhaustion and a feeling of breathlessness.
I cried. I cried twice. Once because of the English word cancer. The next day I told myself the horrible sentence in Czech, my native, mother tongue. I told myself: “I have a cancer. Cancer. I got cancer.” That really got me. I am bilingual, a brain split into two. I cried and cried.
My in-laws shopped and cooked. My mom-in-law slept at our place.
Sunday night I decided to do something. To do something small so that I could take control over it. I started to research good food for fighting breast cancer. But I found stories of breast cancer survivors, and I realized that I don’t know anything about this disease. And then the questions popped up. “Is it only in my breast?” “What type of cancer do I have?” There are so many types and possibilities and all look positively shitty. Wow that was definitively on top of my idiotic ideas. It has to be up there with my idea of showing off my backward hanging ability on a ten inch high bar when I was seven.
I panicked. Simply and clearly panicked. I couldn’t breathe and felt that the cancer is everywhere in my body. Panic grows inside of me. “This is what I have to live through every day.” Tried to cheer up my husband with his anxiety streak.
My in-laws and husband are cleaning up. My mom is looking for a flight ticket.
One thing changed during this horrible never ending weekend. I found my own path out. When the panic gripped me and wouldn’t let go I started to imagine my son’s sleeping face. That innocent face calmed me down, it transferred me into a different much nicer realm. I started to change my thinking from “I don’t have this” into “I’ve got so much, and I am so grateful for that.”
No more internet research but my mom-in-law still sleeps at our place.
The results came. We decided that my husband will be the person to deal with the doctor’s office. He will be the person who will know the results first. I admit that after the initial shock of learning that I have cancer I cannot deal with it. I am a wimp. My cancer is estrogen positive. “That’s the cancer you wanted.” Says my doctor. Skipping the idea that it’s cancer and that I never wanted to have it, I guess when it’s here I will take this one over another. My sister-in-law, an amazing cancer doctor herself, is ecstatic. I still cannot muster the excitement in me.
Estrogen positive is the most common type of breast cancer. The one that they have the most successful results from. Easy peasy, no problem here. My husband is so happy he almost cries. He did some internet research and was terrified. I feel a little better at least I can name it. They are still running some additional testing.
My mom is packing.
Wednesday. My MRI test day. This will show if more cancer is detected in my body. I am scared yet again. Again? Or still? My husband is there with me – he calms me down. “It’s not important what you have. We know its estrogen positive. That’s the most important thing.” Says my amazing husband with such a certainty that I completely believe him.
Again, that striped robe and half an hour without any movement. Of course five minutes into the MRI I have a horrible urge to move. I made it. My husband is waiting for me in the waiting room. He is so calm and reassuring so positive he makes me feel so good. Two days later he told me he was so nervous there he almost passed out.
Our household is full of new words. Chemotherapy, radiation, mastectomy, lumpectomy, biopsy. I heard that they can do reconstruction from my own fat. “Liposuction and breast enlargement in one.” My mom cheers me up over the phone. My friend who had a mastectomy two years ago is showing me her amazing breasts. “Like a twenty year old.” Yes, I always liked dark humor. When the situation sucks at least you can still laugh.
At night we are holding each other – my husband and I. We are hugging and he says:
“Don’t do anything stupid. I love you. We need you. Don’t think about leaving us.” Our little guy comes in our bed and we don’t complain about his kicking us. Not this night or the next one, or the one after.
The results from the MRI came. It’s only in the lump. I will believe it once it’s out of my body. I am scared to jinx it.
My mom finally arrives. She holds me in her arms. I am responsible for her new wrinkles she says. The next morning our little guy cannot believe that his grandma finally stopped flying and came back to him. I think that explains my mom’s new wrinkles. Who wouldn’t age flying nonstop for a month and half. I just hope she didn’t fly Delta.
We feel better. We are getting used to our new “normality.” I have an amazing family, friends, people around me. I need all their support and love. And I think about people who are fighting this bitch and don’t have anybody around.
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.
Author Judy C. Kneece, RN, OCN has donated a copy of each of her handbooks for our giveaway. You are welcome to enter to win one or both!
To enter for Breast Cancer Treatment Handbook, CLICK HERE.
To enter for Breast Cancer Survivorship Handbook, CLICK HERE.
EduCare Inc., a dedicated breast health education company, was founded in January 1994 by Judy C. Kneece, RN, OCN. For more than 20 years, EduCare has been a leader in providing the highest quality breast health educational materials for patients and healthcare providers, along with training healthcare professionals.
Many fellow breast cancer survivors, myself included, freak out about scans. This is actually a thing we call scanxiety. It’s the anxiety you feel while waiting for a scan, during the scan, and waiting for the results of the scan. Before I go any further I want to point out that not everyone needs the same scans and while certain scans are appropriate for one patient, they may not be appropriate for another. Even among breast cancer patients with the same diagnosis, there may be factors that warrant a different approach to imaging studies. Having scans is a double edged sword-you want the scan for your peace of mind but in the meantime you know you’re going to get all nerve wracked and distressed.
I remember the PET scan I had after my bilateral mastectomy. I asked the technician when I might receive the results, and she said my doctor would probably want to meet with me to go over them. I know these were the words she spoke but all I heard was “he will want to see you in person because the cancer spread everywhere and you’re dying and he won’t say that over the phone.” Waiting for my oncologist to call with the results was like waiting for a clemency call from the Governor. When he finally called with good news, I made him say it like four times.
During the expansion process last year, my plastic surgeon found a pea sized bump on the scar where my lymph nodes were removed. An ultrasound was ordered which triggered an acute case of scanxiety. The radiologist performing the ultrasound was even the same doctor who performed my fateful ultrasound in 2015. As soon as that probe touched me, all manner of horrifying thoughts flooded my brain, and I had the worst déjà vu imaginable and then experienced flashes of my future with morbid thoughts of my funeral, my daughter growing up without me, taking my last breath. In a matter of moments, I was in the depths of despair, imagining every macabre scenario. Then I heard the radiologist saying something about a benign oil cyst, nothing to worry about and come back in six months. After all that self-induced drama, it turned out to be an oil cyst/fat necrosis. PHEW! For now. See, for those of us with breast cancer, or any type of cancer really, the anxiety is always there. In my case, it’s been either all-consuming or bubbling just below the surface. I will be headed back in a couple of weeks for a six month check of my oil cyst, so I decided I needed a plan to combat this fear.
There are methods I’ve found to deal with scanxiety and fear of recurrence so it does not rule my life. When I’m feeling apprehensive about a doctor’s appointment or a procedure, or even a simple headache I’m convinced is brain metastasis, I go to my happy place in my mind. Usually this is either on a beach somewhere with my family or a comfy hammock where I am reading my favorite book. I practice deep breathing. I blog about my thoughts, my reservations and my blessings. I spend girl time with my daughter and appreciate the incredible young lady she’s becoming as she gets ready for high school. I also found that focusing on helping others helps to distract me from my own worries. I text my good friend whose husband recently went through Leukemia treatment and see how they are doing. I check on my pink sisters and offer comfort and support.
I’m not going to lie, it’s not always easy and it is not something I learned overnight, but I have gained a measure of peace and that is something I wish for all my pink sisters.
Scanxiety happens to all of us. Just know that you are normal if it happens to you too. It’s ok to reach out to other pink sisters about your concerns. They can probably relate and will help you through it.
Kelly lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter, three cats and a bearded dragon named Pascal. She was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive Lobular Carcinoma in 2015. She can be found blogging about her good, bad and ugly experiences battling breast cancer at Kelly’s Cancer Beat Down Blog.
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!