Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pinktober and Breast Cancer Remembrance Day

Well, today is the last day of October; and as such, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is coming to an end.  I participate in a discussion board at and there are some who think that the whole "Pinktober" thing is totally overdone.  There is concern that it appears there are lots of corporate donations heading towards breast cancer research, but that it might not be as much as it seems.  You can buy everything in "breast cancer ribbon pink" from a dishwashing scrubbie to a KitchenAid mixer, and pretty much any article of clothing, handbag, name it, you can get it.  Does Komen go too far by "pimping out" the pink ribbon, as some have suggested?  Or do you think it really helps the cause, and contributes millions of dollars to research for a cure? 

Personally, I'm OK with all the pink.  First, I always liked the color; I actually have a pink netbook that I ordered long before I got breast cancer.  Now it looks like I did it on  I have pink ribbon jewelry made by a blogger friend/artist; I have shirts with pink ribbons collected from years of participating in the Komen Race for the Cure; and I have lots of wearable pink in my wardrobe because it just happens to be a good color for me.  I am not sure how I feel about seeing big, brawny NFL players wearing pink on gameday but then, the NFL is a huge supporter so I guess it's OK.

If all this "hoopla" really, truly raises awareness and makes one single woman do a self-exam, get a mammogram, and detect breast cancer early, then it's worth it.  If the money truly ends up in the hands of scientists who finally discover the magic bullet that cures breast cancer, then it's worth it. 

One survivor on the blog wrote this, and I think it's a great idea:

"..I've also decided to create my own holiday: Breast Cancer Remembrance Day. On Oct, 31, the final day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I will remember the friends and family I have lost to this disease. It's Sunday, so I will light a candle for them and say some prayers...

"At 8:45 pm that night I will go outside with a flashlight. I'll think of the one in 8 U.S. women who will get breast cancer and the 45,000 who will die this year.

"My eighth grade science teacher told us if you turned on a flashlight and pointed it toward the sky the photons leave the flashlight and they immediately start to spread out. Provided that they don't hit anything, each individual photon travels through space forever.

"Time slows down as you approach the speed of light.

"I'll think of those whose time was all too brief and I'll hope for brighter days ahead."

So, Angie and Bev, I'll be thinking of you at 8:45 tonight.

And Donna, I'll be thinking of you at 8:45 tonight, too.  And tomorrow.  You see, tomorrow Donna will be having a mastectomy as breast cancer has paid her another unwelcome visit, for the third time.   Donna is a true warrior who has been to battle too many times. 

A cure ... we need a cure. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A link to Paul's blog on our Boston Komen Race for the cure

My son-in-law Paul created a great blog entry for our family's Race for the Cure event.  Here's a link with some great pictures and Paul's narrative of the Race.  Alex is really growing up!

Alex's First Race for the Cure

Who knows, maybe he'll become a long-distance runner!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

This is a great idea!

The Lymphedema Index (L-Dex)

Most women with breast cancer have had lymph node dissection, surgery and radiation as part of the treatment process.  After surgery, some women suffer from lymphedema because the normal lymphatic system has been disrupted.  Lymphedema can develop months or even years afterwards.   See the link for more information and causes:

When I was in Boston for the Komen Race, they had a health expo set up the evening before the race.  There was a group demonstrating the L-Dex technology, which can measure a woman's risk of developing lymphedema.  I was curious about this, even though I am statistically at very low risk according to my breast surgeon.  I let them test me, which was an interesting process. 

Someone has a picture of me on the table having this done.  They hooked up leads to both arms and my right foot (opposite of my BC side) and mea­sure­ments were made by pass­ing a harm­less elec­tri­cal sig­nal of very low strength from the L-Dex device through my arm. Both arms were mea­sured and the whole pro­ce­dure took only min­utes to complete.

It works like this:  The elec­tri­cal sig­nal trav­els through the fluid sur­round­ing the cells which make up the mus­cle and tis­sue of the arm. The amount of this fluid increases as lym­phedema devel­ops.  Increased fluid means the elec­tri­cal sig­nal will travel more eas­ily through the arm. An L-Dex device com­pares how eas­ily the elec­tri­cal sig­nal trav­els in the unaf­fected ver­sus the affected (or at-risk) arms and gen­er­ates an L-Dex value from this comparison.

My score was a 4, which was well within normal range and indicates I am not at high risk.  If I had scored above 10, I would want to work with a lymphedema therapist and take precautions such as wearing a compression sleeve when flying.  Preventing lymphedema is easier than treating it once it occurs.

For more information, go to


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bone Density Scan - a little more info

I had an oncologist appointment today and the good news is that there was no news.  It was a "non-event" (even my blood pressure was normal) and I am now on the "every 3 month" schedule for the next 2 years. 

I  have a copy of my 3D QCT Bone Mineral Densitometry Report from last month.  I had to do a little research to see what all the values really mean.  So first, the QCT is an acronym for quantitative computed tomography.  It's different technology than the usual DEXA scan.  Here is a link to a sample report that looks just like mine:

My spine bone density value is 153.4 mg/cm3, with any value about 120 mg/cm3 indicative of normal bone density. So far, so good!

My T-Score is -0.58, with -1.0 being the bones of a 30 year old.  So my bones are better than a 30 year old.  More goodness.

And my Z-score is 1.81, which is also good news.

"The Z-score compares your bone density to that of other people of your age, sex and ethnic group. A negative Z-score means your bones are thinner and weaker than those of people similar to you, and a positive number means your bones are stronger."

I don't have to worry about osteoporosis at the moment.  I am still working on raising my Vitamin D level up to 70-80.  I was tested in June and I was at 45, which is OK. But I had just come back from a very sunny two weeks in Hawaii.  I expect that my levels would have been lower if the test were done at the end of the long dark winter, say...March.  Hopefully the calcium and D supplements will do their job and raise my levels to where I'd like them to be.   Femara does cause bone loss, so it looks like I have some "reserve" to stave off the side effects for now. 

By the way, I think it's a miracle that my bones are this good.  I have never been a milk drinker and I'm not big into exercise other than walking.  I've never taken calcium supplements unless you count Tums for an upset stomach ;>)

It's all good!


We Hall'd A$$ in Boston!

Ready... to Hall A$$
As team captain, Christine made the "honor roll" for the donations to the team.

And our shirts were the hit of the party!  We were asked by race officials to submit a shirt for next year's "team shirt" contest.  We had a great time, everyone was able to walk the 3.1 miles and was still smiling when it was done.  The weather was spectacular and we enjoyed a great lunch on the waterfront after the race.

Surprisingly, the Boston race has just about 7,500 participants while the Kansas City race had well over 30,000 this year.  It was certainly less crowded and a bit more relaxed.

And most importantly, my kids raised about $1500 in donations for this race.  When you add it to the $2000 or so from the KC race and all our entry fees,  Hall A$$ for the Cure raised $4,000!!! 

Once again, thank you to everyone who contributed in so many ways!