giveaway

Giveaway #19: Recovery Tee and Care Package from Courage to Conquer Cancer

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Kandi Stewart and Kristi James of Courage to Conquer Cancer have donated a Breast Cancer Patient Care Package including a recovery tee.

Visit Courage to Conquer Cancer at www.couragetoconquercancer.com.

Follow Courage to Conquer Cancer on Facebook HERE.  Visit Courage to Conquer Cancer’s Etsy shop HERE.

***ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE***

This is a great gift for any patient undergoing a mastectomy or other breast surgery.

Care package includes one of their patent pending recovery tees (for drain management, easy on/off while movement is restricted, and can be used during other breast cancer treatments), a soft, plush blanket to keep warm in the infusion center or hospital, small bottle of hand sanitizer, a small water bottle with straw, essential oil soap, lip balm, sickness bag, pocket-sized tissues, box of peppermint oil Angel mints, and a tote to contain it all.

giveaway

Giveaway #11: The Brobe

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The Brobe is donated by designer and founder Allison Schickel.

As an added bonus, Ms Allison is offering 15% off to our members with the code BCSISTERS15.  Visit their website here:  www.thebrobe.com.

Like them on Facebook HERE.  Follow on Twitter HERE and Instagram HERE.

***ENTER TO WIN THE GIVEAWAY HERE.***

The Recovery Brobe is the FIRST bra + Robe combination designed for post-operative wp-1490580011305.jpgbreast surgery. The unique design includes pockets inside the robe to hold post-op drains, 2 pockets on each side. It also comes with a detachable, wire free, front closure bra that has pockets inside the bra to hold ice packs and/or a prosthetic breast(s). The Recovery Brobe can be worn with, or without the Bra – it’s detachable!

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“A friend of mine underwent a double mastectomy and 3 reconstructive surgeries in 2010. She explained the difficulties of finding a post-operative garment that was functional and comfortable, not to mention feminine. After she showed me what the hospital provided her, I was appalled! I hated thinking of the mothers, sisters, daughters and friends wearing that garment during an otherwise traumatic time.

 After doing my research on what would make a successful recovery garment, I contacted a local seamstress who helped me design a pattern and create several prototypes. Prototypes in hand, I met with the Executive Director and Marketing Director of a local non profit, who introduced the garment to a woman recovering from a single mastectomy. After trying on the different options, she looked up at me, tears in her eyes and said, “This makes me very sad for all of the women who have not had this in the past. You have to make twp-1490580057124.jpghese garments!”

Today the Recovery Brobe features two pockets on either side to host post-operative fluid
drains. The detachable Recovery Bra, also sold separately, features inside pockets for ice packs and/or prosthetic breast. Its Velcro front-closure makes independent dressing easier and more comfortable. The robe’s ¾” sleeves allow for easy IV access during treatment and the fabric is durable, yet luxurious for comfortable wear. It has become the FIRST bra + robe combination designed for breast cancer recovery, made to be worn before, during and after recovery. We’ve also expanded our line of recovery accessories with the Shower Belt by Brobe as well as recovery bras.

giveaway

Giveaway #9: Post Mastectomy Underarm Pillow from Pink Pepper Co

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Pink Pepper Co. owner and fellow breast cancer survivor, Leslie Notarianni, has donated a Post Mastectomy Underarm Pillow.

Pink Pepper Co Website:  www.pinkpepperco.com

Like Pink Pepper Co on Facebook HERE.  Follow on Twitter HERE and on Instagram HERE.

***ENTER TO WIN HERE***

Pink Pepper Co. specializes in post op comfort products for breast cancer and mastectomy healing.   We feature Mastectomy Pillows, which provide comfort and protection after any type of breast surgery.  As a patient is healing, they need to apply soft pressure to the chest area, and offer protection against bumps, drops, and the occasional pet or child jump.  Our Mastectomy Pillow is the perfect solution. Equally important is our Mastectomy T Shirts, which are 100% cotton, have easy open snap fronts, and are specifically designed to discreetly hold drain tubes and provide comfort during healing.  These are worn 24 hours a day by patients for the first month of recovery, and are absolutely necessary when mobility and movement are limited.

Made by a Breast Cancer Survivor who understands, for other future Breast Cancer Survivors!
The owner of Pink Pepper Co is a Breast Cancer warrior, turned survivor! She now makes items to help others through their fight with breast cancer, and to help comfortably from a mastectomy or breast other breast surgery. Each item is handmade in the USA. Each item has been tested through use by Leslie as well during her own treatment. “I sincerely hope it can provide some help and comfort to others through their treatment as well.” You can also follow her journey on Instagram

 

guest blogger

I Cried, But Then I Laughed

By guest blogger Kelly Nemecek

In the weeks after my diagnosis of Stage 3 breast cancer, I found myself crying, out of fear and hopelessness, devastated at the thought that my 12 year old daughter might lose her mommy.  But as I got closer to my surgery date, a strange thing happened.  The hopelessness turned into determination and a sense of purpose, like a soldier preparing for battle.

I knew that I would be relying heavily on my faith in God, but what I didn’t know at the time was that my sense of humor would also be a huge factor in how I would cope with this new threat on my life.  I have always been very self-deprecating, and my husband and daughter can pretty much make any situation hilarious.  Case in point- after my surgery as I was slowly regaining consciousness and trying to get my bearings in the midst of my morphine fog, random thoughts popped into my head, like “I wonder where my boobs are now?”  Turns out I said it out loud because on my hospital room white board, under Your Questions/Comments, my husband wrote, “Where are my boobs?”

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I know he was attempting to lighten the mood.  And it worked!  As I was already so loopy, I couldn’t stop laughing (which unfortunately caused more pain).  I started texting it to all my friends, who were probably like “What the hell? Kelly’s on some good drugs.”  I knew at that moment if I could continue to find the humor in this ordeal, I would be able to fight.

Prior to surgery I was fairly certain I wanted to wear breast forms, but realistically, afterwards, I could not even wear a bra yet.  The nurse gave me a snug white tank top with pockets to supposedly hold the breast forms, only they came with weird miniature pillows that looked ridiculous and nothing like breasts.  I looked at her like “Really?  And they’re white?  You understand I have two surgical drains emptying blood and other bodily fluids, right?  I can’t stand up and it hurts to move, and you really think I care about putting those pillows in this tank top pillow sham thingy?”

My surgeon wouldn’t let me wear a bra until I healed anyway.  As it turns out, I was okay with that.  I was sore, tired, and emotionally drained so I didn’t give a crap about breast forms.  I was a happy flatty Patty.  I felt comfortable wearing just about everything in my closet from before “The Big Chop,” from fitted T-shirts to flowy blouses.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, going braless was a good thing as I would end up with bad radiation burns in the near future.

This change of heart about the breast forms turned out to be true with my hair as well.  Heading into chemotherapy, I was nervous about the side effects, like nausea and fatigue, and really just the unknown.   Originally, my first thought when I heard I was having chemotherapy was “God no! Not the hair!.”  I had long blonde flowing locks so I figured I’d better cut it into a pixie in preparation for “The Great Bald Experiment of 2015.”  After I lost my hair, I thought I might never leave the house.  I was going to get a wig.  I was kind of pretty chunky so I thought I won’t even be cute bald like Sinead O’Connor or Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy.  Sure enough, two weeks after the first round of chemotherapy it was falling out.  I could gently tug on it, and it would pop right out.  I became obsessed with pulling on it a little at a time. After someone caught me doing it at work, I decided it was time to buzz it.  First, my husband, Tomas took it down to an eighth of an inch, and I looked like GI Jane minus the six pack abs.

wp-1489976753757.jpgAfter that I couldn’t handle all the tiny needle-like hairs everywhere and subsequent itching.  I gra
bbed the shaving cream and the razor and just did it.  It felt awesome and liberating.  I know hair can be a sensitive subject for many cancer warriors and not everyone can whip out the clippers and go to town, but I surprised myself and did just that.  I mostly wore these cute cadet style caps but sometimes went commando.  It was summer in Phoenix after all.

My family must have found every bald joke ever written, and I loved it.  They supported me and took care of me with love and patience.  They knew when I needed to not be treated like an invalid, and when I needed to laugh.  Don’t get me wrong.  There is nothing funny about breast cancer but sometimes laughter is the best medicine and cancer will not take that from me.

Recently, I saw a video that featured a woman dancing around the operating room prior to her mastectomy.  It went viral, and it seemed everyone had an opinion about it.  While some thought it was awesome, others, especially other breast cancer survivors, thought it was just cray cray.  Some were even super offended saying it gives the wrong impression of what it is to face a mastectomy like it’s somehow fun and games.  I honestly didn’t know what to think. I sure as hell did not feel like dancing at the time at the time of my surgery, but similarly, I had been making jokes and much like referring to my upcoming surgery as “The Big Chop.”  I get what this lady was doing now. She was coping.  I think as warriors and survivors we have to do whatever it takes to get us through this hell, whether it’s hiding, crying, laughing or screaming.  And yes, even dancing.


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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

giveaway

Giveaway #7: Complete Gift Set from Post Op Solutions

Surgical Drain Pockets, Lanyard and Seat Belt Pillow Set donated by Post Op Solutions founder and fellow breast cancer survivor, Heidi Hennessey.

Visit their website here:  www.postopsolutions.com

“Like” their Facebook page HERE.

***ENTER THE GIVEAWAY BY CLICKING HERE***

Details about the items donated: Post Op Solutions surgical drain pockets, lanyard and seat belt pillow set is the perfect solution for post mastectomy or any kind of breast surgeries.

The pockets and lanyard are designed to hold the drains securely in place, providing ultimate comfort during the post-operative healing process. The pockets eliminate the need to pin drains to clothing while the lanyard is used to hold drains securely during shower or bath.

The seat belt pillow is a great way to protect the chest/surgical area during car rides. While this is NOT a safety device, it will give you soft padding and protection from direct contact with the seat belt.

INCLUDED IN THE GIFT PACK ARE:
• 2 Pockets
• 1 Belt
• 1 Lanyard
• 1 Seat Belt Pillow

POCKETS: The pockets are made of black cotton fabric and is worn under clothing like an undergarment keeping the drains secure around the waist and totally independent of clothing. Each pocket will hold 2 drains so both pockets can easily hold at 4 drains. There is a center divider inside of each pocket that is made of a fun printed fabric. Having two sections per pocket gives each drain its own space making them easier to manage. The overall pocket size is approximately 7″ wide x 6.5″ high while the actual pocket area is approximately 7″ wide x 4.75″ high.

BELT: The belt is used to hold the pockets and is made of black nylon belting with a side-clip buckle. Belt extends to 47” and is adjustable.

LANYARD: The lanyards is made of soft nylon and attaches with a metal clip and ring. There is also a metal bead used to adjust length. The drain loop simply slides onto the lanyard. The maximum hanging length is 23″.

SEAT BELT PILLOW: The pillow is made of black cotton fabric and attaches to the seatbelt with soft fleece fabric and Velcro. Pillow size is approximately 10” x 7”.

I am confident these products will be the perfect post-op solution to fulfill your needs during the critical healing process. It is my personal intent to share these products and its many benefits with others who are searching as I was for solutions to aid in their recovery.

collaborative post, resources

Helping Your Favorite Breast Cancer Warrior

This post is a collaborative effort from the members of Breast Cancer Sisters compiled by Taylor Eames.

Once the breast cancer diagnosis is shared with friends and family, one of the most common things we hear is , “How can I help?”  or “What can I do for you?”  It’s difficult for many women to accept that they need help let alone to ask for it.  So I posed the question in our group asking what our warriors would have appreciated in care packages and what services their support system could do to take away some of the burden of a cancer diagnosis.

For Side Effects:

  • Hard Candies/Anti-Nausea Pops or Drops/Chewing Gum-Chemotherapy often causes nausea and can also leave a bad taste in the mouth.  Citrus, ginger, or mint are helpful for both of these side effects, but feel free to get something you know your fighter will like.
  • Head Coverings-Hair loss is imminent.  There’s really no getting around it with the types of chemo that are used to combat breast cancer. Talk with your warrior to find
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    “Jules” from ChemoBeanies.com
    out what kinds of head coverings they would want to wear.  Wigs are available for free through the American Cancer Society, but you can always offer to purchase a gift certificate to a wig store nearby so they can pick out something in their preferred color and style.  Bandanas, silk scarves, bucket hats, beanies, baseball caps, and other styles are all up to the wearer’s preference.  A popular option in the group is ChemoBeanies.com.  If you are planning to hand make hats, please remember that bald heads are quite sensitive.  You should use soft cotton, fleece, or silk.  Homespun yarn is a good choice for crochet or knit hats.
  • Lotion-Chemo and radiation both cause skin irritation.  Remember strong smells can make nausea worse, so we recommend sticking to unscented or sensitive lotions.  Eucerin and Aquaphor are fantastic options.  If you do go with something scented, lavender is soothing and peppermint helps with nausea.
  • Ointments-Radiation can leave burn marks on the skin.  Our members have suggested 100% Aloe Vera, Bepanthen, Aquaphor healing ointment, bees wax, Miaderm Radiation Cream, and Medline Skin Remedy.
  • Salt-This may seem weird but it’s going to show your fighter that you did some research!  Chemo patients often lose all sense of taste and/or they have a constant metallic taste in their mouth.  One of the things most often suggested to anyone complaining of not being able to taste food is salt.  Plain old table or sea salt!  From baked chicken to mashed potatoes to veggies, we cover it in salt and finally are able to taste something.
  • Plastic Utensils-This is another strange one, but believe me, it’s helpful.  Like I said above, chemo causes a horrible metallic taste.  Using regular metal forks and spoons makes it worse.
  • Biotene Mouthwash and Soft Tooth Brush-Another unpleasant side effect of chemo is sensitive gums and mouth sores.  The soft tooth brush will help massage the gums when they are sore without causing more issues.  Biotene is an excellent mouthwash that oncologists recommend to their patients who are experiencing mouth sores.
  • Baby Oil/Coconut Oil/Baby Shampoo-With hair loss, cancer patients’ heads get very sensitive.  We still wash our noggins even though we don’t have hair.  Using a gentle shampoo and then massaging oil into the scalp helps bring down the tenderness.
  • Sun Screen-Chemo causes a sun sensitivity.  I remember getting burnt after just being outside for ten minutes without any sunscreen on.
  • Claritin-Neulasta, a shot that is given to boost white blood cells, causes major bone pain.  For some reason, Claritin seems to help with that pain for a few people.  Everyone should at least try it before having to rely on heavy duty pain meds instead.
  • Imodium/Flushable Wipes-Here’s an embarrassing fact that you probably don’t care to know: chemo causes diarrhea.  Chemo nurses recommend Imodium.  And the flushable wipes help with the sensitive skin when frequent potty breaks are needed.
  • OTC Medications-Tylenol, Benadryl, Melatonin, Colace, all useful during chemo.
  • Fuzzy Socks-Neuropathy from chemo causes chilly tootsies.
  • Soft, Warm Blanket-Heat and cold tolerance is all sorts of messed up during treatment.  A nice cuddly blanky is a loving gesture too.
  • Hand Sanitizer-Germs are the enemy.  Chemo kills white blood cells.  Washing hands after touching grocery carts or money, after shaking hands, or when someone around you is sick, are essential parts of infection precaution.
  • Pill Case-Anti-nausea, steroids, pain meds, hormone blockers, etc.  Meds are taken all day every day.  So something to sort them out is helpful.
  • Calendar-Chemo often causes memory issues.  Chemo brain is a real thing.  With the many appointments that go along with treatment, a calendar all help keep them organized.

Post Op Items:

  • Button Up Jammies/Spacious Night Gowns/Robe-After a mastectomy, the arms cannot be raised for at least a week, and after that, it is often difficult and range of motion is limited.
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    Drain Tube Lanyard and Pocket Pouch from PostOpSolutions.com
  • Drain Tube Pouch/Apron-Your fighter will most likely come home with at least one drainage tube.  It’s best to allow gravity to work with these tubes, so keeping them in pockets at waist level is advised.
  • Drain Tube Lanyard-This is great to hold the drain tubes while showering
  • Heart Pillow/Small Pillow-Placing a pillow under the arm after surgery is essential.  The nerves are extremely sensitive under the arm.  It feels like a severe sunburn.  I kept a pillow under both arms for about three weeks.
  • Ice Packs-Along with the pillows under the arms, ice packs also help sooth the sensitive skin.
  • Seat Belt Pillow-The seat belt goes right over the incisions and can irritate sutures.  A seat belt pillow can just be a small pillow that sits between the seat belt and the chest or one that wraps around the seat belt to protect the chest.
  • Slip On Shoes or Slippers-Again, it’s difficult to move the arms after a mastectomy, and frankly, it’s hard to move all together.  So being able to step right into your shoes with out having to bend over to put them on is very helpful.

Services:

  • Freezer Dinners/Set up a Meal Train-If you know someone going through treatment or surgery, or someone just diagnosed or feeling overwhelmed with life and stress caused by the diagnosis, make a meal and bring it over to their house.  I cannot tell you how much that will mean to them.  You can also set up a meal train at mealtrain.com.  Basically, you set up a schedule for others to bring in meals to the family in need.  This is especially awesome for single moms!
  • Cleaning-Either go to your warrior’s home and clean their bathroom or kitchen, or hire a maid to do it for them.  Even if it’s something simple like cleaning a toilet or vacuuming the hallway, it’s extremely helpful.
  • Babysitting-Chemo, radiation, and surgery are all exhausting.  Invite your fighter’s kids over for an evening or to do something special.  It will give your patient time to rest without worrying about taking care of the children, and it will make the kids feel special.  Mom is going through something rough right now and is probably getting all the attention.  The kiddoes need to feel some love and normalcy during this hard time.
  •  Gift Cards-Restaurants, gas, iTunes, Red Box, Massage, Spa, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.  Anything that will take you warrior’s mind off the fight is very helpful.

Fun Things:

  • Word Search Books
  • Crossword Puzzles
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    Adult Coloring Page from ValentinaDesigns.com
  • Books
  • Movies
  • Crocheting Hook or Knitting Needles and Yarn
  • A book about how to crochet or knit
  • Adult Coloring Books and Colored Pencils or Markers
  • A stuffed animal to be their mascot during treatments
  • Random Texts to Show you Care
  • Comic Books
  • Journal
  • Headphones
  • Audio Books
  • Sketch Pad
  • Send silly Snapchats
  • Go to their infusion and make fun videos together
  • Sudoku Books
  • Share a silly meme on their Facebook page just for the heck of it
  • Send a card.  Not a sympathy card.  A funny card.  Something that will make them smile.

The most common things requested are support and prayers.  Go do some research about their type of cancer and their treatment plan.  The more you know, the more you can be there for them as they go through this battle for their life.  If you ever feel awkward asking them what they need, ask a close friend or family member to give you a specific thing to do that will help them out.

Lastly, you should know that the battle does not end with “no evidence of disease.”  Some side effects can become long term.  Anxiety about future health issues and possible recurrence is often quite prevalent.  After spending a year or longer in treatment, suddenly being done being a professional patient feels strange and empty.  Your warrior is going to need you now as much as ever.  Check in often.  Make sure they are taking care of their mental health as well as their physical health.  Continue to give them the love and support they need to reenter a normal life.

Do you have anything to add to this list?  Feel free to comment with more suggestions!

 

photogrid_1489558558749.jpgTaylor 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.

giveaway

Giveaway #5: $50 Gift Certificate to AnaOno Intimates

$50 Gift Certificate to AnaOno Intimates donated by founder, CEO, and fellow survivor, Dana Donofree.

Visit the company website at www.anaono.com.

Like AnaOno on Facebook HERE.  Follow on Twitter HERE and Instagram HERE.

AnaOno is a lingerie and loungewear company that launched in 2014 with the mission to design specifically for those who’ve had breast reconstruction, breast surgery, mastectomy or are living with other conditions that cause pain or discomfort. Our collections of bras, panties and apparel are created and constructed to meet their specific needs that are often not met by traditional lingerie brands. We differ from the larger market because we target what is needed to feel comfortable, confident and beautiful. This includes wire-free designs, four-way stretch, hidden seams, gentle materials, pocketed and non-pocketed bras and cut and construction to avoid pain points.

***ENTER TO WIN A $50 GIFT CERTIFICATE HERE***