Chemo Day 13: Reality bites.

What starts out as a pleasant video blog entry takes an upsetting turn when I decide to show you that some of my hair is falling on the underside of the back of my head.

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Chemo Day 12: I don’t like Mondays

A visit from Cantor Sally Neff Greenberg, fellow Oberlin College graduate & knitter extraordinaire, and Schmooie, the feline breast cancer & quadruple mastectomy survivor, perks up a particularly difficult Monday.

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Chemo Day 10: Style and Grace

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Part 2:
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My Story Part II: Like sands through the hourglass, those are the grains of our lives

It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out; it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.

– Robert W. Service

My Rock and I had just enough time to eat our sandwiches in the waiting area when we were introduced to Michele Speer, the Breast Center Nurse Navigator at Stamford Hospsital and brought to her office. The room was bedecked with pink ribbons, pink teddy bears, and all things pink. We sat on her sofa and she brought up a screen with what looked like the outline of a breast and then a bunch of little white spots forming a crescent. Each dot looked like a grain of salt. They were somewhat sporadic, but clearly there. Michelle explained that they were likely just calcifications, is where calcium salts form and build into hardened grains, and nothing. However, because they are they and the hospital wanted to rule them out, they wanted to have me come in for a biopsy.

I was told to stop taking any and all supplements I’d been taking as part of the D’Adamo Shift plan, as some herbal remedies prevent blood from clotting, and since this is an invasive procedure, it would be best to refrain. The biopsy was scheduled for the following week. And timing stunk. It was just a day or two before a day-long drive up to Maine for a mountain-bike race weekend.

Being the control freak that I am, I asked Michelle to describe the procedure in explicit detail. When she got to the part that my breast would be dropped through a hole in the table with me facing down, and I’d have absolutely no visibility to what was going on, I slammed on the brakes.

“No way, Michelle. No way. That’s not going to happen.”

“What do you mean? You don’t want to see this.”

“The hell I don’t.”

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Breast Cancer Myth Busters: There are lots of misconceptions about breast cancer. Arm yourself with facts

Journal News writer Bill Cary tackles the myths surrounding breast cancer in this week’s Sunday Life cover story as part of our ongoing coverage of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here’s the story as it appeared in print:

Everyone seems to know someone touched by breast cancer. It’s a disease that will be diagnosed in one in eight women during their lifetimes, according to the American Cancer Society, but it reaches far deeper into families and friendships, as loved ones and acquaintances often come face to face with cancer for the first time.

Along with that awareness, however, comes lots of second-hand information and anecdotes about how best to prevent breast cancer, plus a steady and often contradictory stream of information in the media about the latest advances in medicine and treatments.

Add in the inherent dangers of turning to the Internet for medical advice and you’re bound to get a wealth of sort-of truths and outright misinformation.

To help separate fact from myth, we asked local doctors and breast cancer experts to address 10 myths that are among the most prevalent misconceptions they hear from their patients. Their answers, after the jump.

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My Story Part I: Happy Birthday To Me

“You must have control of the authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand.”

– Irene C. Kassorla

As most women in their late 20s, (in my case, really late 20s. I’m 29 and several quarters) turning another 4 quarters older was not very exciting for me. In fact, it was pretty depressing. Especially when I factored in the fact that I was still single, in debt, with 2 kids with an absent father who marginally fulfills his legal financial obligations, and not without a fight, working for a start-up company and still struggling hard to make ends meet. I’ve long said that I refuse to enter into my 30s on the record until I was re-married, out of debt, no longer dependent on the supplemental income from child support to provide for my children and being able to afford a one-week Disney/cruise vacation once a year. To me, that’s the definition of an adult life. I’ll forego the white picket fence and the remaining 1/2 kid.

But, I wasn’t there yet. To boot, the previous year was brutal for me. Yes, there were many victories along the way, including becoming a successful fundraiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LIVESTRONG), a regular and passionate cyclist and a new mountain biker, all attributed to the passion for the sport of cycling inspired by an old friend. In fact, my very enthusiastic involvement with LIVESTRONG was primarily the result of a bet issued by this friend to ride 200 miles in one day. Along the ride, I met a LIVESTRONG Leader who was also a fundraising mentor who convinced me to get more involved with the cause – for the rewards, incentive to perform etc. It had far less to do with cancer survivorship. I rode for people I loved, of course, but it was more about this amazing community of passionate cyclists, at the time.

The previous year was overwhelmed by the sorrow over a devastating fight with that same friend who inspired me to ride in the first place, his perpetual, and at times, cruel, silent treatment and my constant battle against my own metabolism. Friends pointed at depression over this broken friendship, and me being too “emo” for my own good, as the reason I was sleeping abnormally, moody and not myself. Part of me believed this to be the case — this certainly was what kept me up at night  — I was afraid of dreams of reconciliation and waking up to the disappointment of knowing that, apparently, there was a brewing hatred on his end. Something else was wrong.

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Low-Cost Options for Fighting Breast Cancer: Live Chat Archive Here

There are free and low-cost services available locally for breast-cancer screening, treatment and support, and we discussed them today on Facebook with these experts:

Lauren Moore and Pei-Fang Fang, both with the American Cancer Society’s Patient Service Center in White Plains

Pamela Ferrari, of Open Door Family Medical Centers

Katie Shields, a nurse with Cancer Support Team in Mamaroneck, which offers free services to residents of lower Westchester.

After the jump, we’ll post the Q&As, with the helpful information these experts provided over on our facebook page:

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Free Mammograms in October in Rockland

Good Samaritan Hospital and Nyack Hospital will offer clinical breast exams, mammograms and Pap tests at no cost for uninsured women 40 and over who are New York state residents.

Walk-ins are welcome; to make an appointment at either site, call the Cancer Services Program of the Hudson Valley at 855-277-4482.

Oct. 19, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Good Samaritan Hospital, 255 Lafayette Ave. (Route 59), Suffern. 845-368-5000.

Oct. 22, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Nyack Hospital, 160 N. Midland Ave., Nyack. 845-348-2000.

Live Chat on Facebook Now: Low-Cost Treatments for Breast Cancer

On our the LoHud facebook page: We’re discussing free and low-cost services available locally — including for breast-cancer screening, treatment and support — with these experts:

Lauren Moore and Pei-Fang Fang, both with the American Cancer Society’s Patient Service Center in White Plains

Pamela Ferrari, of Open Door Family Medical Centers

Katie Shields, a nurse with Cancer Support Team in Mamaroneck, which offers free services to residents of lower Westchester.

Come on over and ask questions: