Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A Lifetime of Cancer

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As we come to the end of Pinktober for this year, I can only hope that all of my Breast Cancer Awareness posts have brought a new outlook to all of you.

I hope that more of you have taken Breast Cancer more serious and have learned things about it that you didn’t know before. I hope that you all have passed on the information I have given you this month to not only the women in your life but, the men as well. I hope that you do your monthly self-exams and get yearly mammograms if you are of age or have a family history. And last but, certainly not least; I pray that nobody you love becomes afflicted with any type of Cancer or illness.

My goal this month was to raise Breast Cancer Awareness; to reach out to as many as I could, spread life-saving knowledge, and to show the masses that cancer affects us all even if you don’t see the connection. I have heard that awareness has sufficiently been raised and there is no more need for it but, I don’t think enough people are aware of how much Breast Cancer has invaded our families. I have heard it is time for more action. Well, I believe in action but, when I think of awareness it is a given that action is included. I was aware of Breast Cancer before it hit me directly. I have spread awareness to others by my actions, my words, my wish for a cure, etc…

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We can support the companies that are dedicated to Breast Cancer and we can be a part of our own health regimen but, other than that what more can we do? We can give money to find a cure for this heinous disease but, we can’t go marching into the Lab and actually find a cure by ourselves. We can donate our time, money and effort to someone afflicted with the disease but, we cannot remove the disease from them. Just because the things we can do are small, doesn’t mean that they are ineffective or not worth doing. Nothing worth doing is ever easy; all paths start with small steps…shall I go on or do you get the picture?

I started this month off with a challenge for all of you… a Facebook event to wear some form of pink visible on your person all month-long, did you do it? I did! I also offered all bloggers a way to support Breast Cancer Awareness by taking part in Pinktober on Blognostics site; did any of you join in? This post is dedicated to the question Blognostics asked, “How have you been affected by Cancer?”

May 5th, 1959; my paternal grandfather (my father’s dad) William George Babcock Sr. died from Leukemia. I don’t know his year of birth but, I guesstimate he was born the same year as my grandma making him age 23 when he died. My father was 4 years old and I wasn’t even a glimmer in his eye yet. You may ask me how this affects me if I wasn’t even born; well my father grew up without his dad. His earliest memories were of his 18 month old sister dying and a year later his own father was taken from him. My father’s firsthand accounts of dealing with death so early in his life resulted in his mental instability,etc… his lack of skills as a father is partly to blame for who I am today.

October 16th, 1974; my maternal grandfather (my mother’s dad) Leeroy Nichols died from Throat Cancer. He was 15 days short of his 40th birthday. My mother was 17 years old and at the time was in the beginning of her pregnancy with me. He walked out when my mom was very young as well. His abandonment of my mom resulted in her lack of trust/abandonment issues in men which trickled down into abandonment/trust issues in me.

I wasn’t even born yet and there I was, well acquainted with Cancer and what it does to “normal” people. Cancer changes everything in a person’s life when they get it but, it doesn’t just stop there…it has the audacity to change the lives of those who love the cancer victim as well. Cancer can and will break the strongest link in any family.

March 29th, 2001; my paternal grandmother (my father’s mom) Rosalie Mabel Simmons died from Stomach/Liver Cancer. She was 64 years old. It’s not quite certain as to which she had first because she wasn’t diagnosed until she had a stroke and ended up in the hospital; by then it had already effected her weight and was too late. It was only a matter of time until the cancer took her life. I managed to make it to Michigan to say goodbye to her the weekend prior to her death. She was so skinny but, for a little while she was her usual self. She was loud, talking shit about Chicago and how terrible a city it is and why on Earth would we want to live there. That was the grandma I had known my whole life. Then the hospice nurse came in and medicated her. She might as well have medicated the entire room because grandma turned into a zombie, she whined, whimpered, and was in terrible pain… all I could do was cry. I had known her my whole life; she was one of the few people in the world I could trust. She was one of the few people in the world who I knew for certain loved me unconditionally; as I did her. It was a Sunday the last time I saw her alive. My husband, the kids, and I drove to her house from the hotel and a song came on the radio. ‘You’ll be in my heart’ by Phil Collins; you may know this song as the one in the Tarzan movie. I cried out uncontrollably and to this day cannot listen to that song; I make the kids skip it when they watch the movie. My grandma died exactly one year to the day that I miscarried. She was and is still one of the hardest deaths I have had to deal with in my life.

June 2nd, 2002; my paternal aunt (my father’s half sister) Dawn Marie Like was diagnosed with diseased breasts (confirmed Breast Cancer during surgery). She was 39 years old. She had a double mastectomy, upon surgery it was discovered that she had cancer in both breasts which if not for the surgery would have gone undetected and treated late resulting possibly in death. She has been cancer-free for 9 years now. My aunt Dawn is the first and only person to date in my family, who was diagnosed early enough to be treated and be a Cancer survivor!

September 6th,2004; my maternal great-uncle (my mother’s mom’s brother) David McGinty died from Pancreatic Cancer. He was 60 years old. I barely remember my great-uncle David; I only remember meeting him once. My family wasn’t good about staying in contact and my father wasn’t good about letting me interact with my mother’s side of the family. My great-uncle had gone back to his normal activities after the Cancer was in regression; traveling and living life, when he went back home the cancer was back in full swing and he died shortly afterwards.

December 24th, 2010; my step great-aunt (my mother’s stepdad’s sister) Sara Isabelle Upton died from Lung Cancer. She was 68 years old. Now you may say “But Jen she is step family and doesn’t count.” I would reply, “You are right if we were talking about my bloodline and my chances of getting cancer. But, we are talking about how cancer has affected me in my life.” So, my step great-aunt, who I also only remember meeting one time in my life had also fell victim to cancer. I wish I had gotten a chance to know her better.

February 8th, 2011; my sister (my younger, only sibling who shared the same two parents) Jessica Rae died from… I want to say Breast Cancer because the doctors were adamant in telling her over and over and over for 3 days that she had Breast Cancer. I was later informed, that the same doctor who swore it was Breast Cancer and was ruling out other cancers when she died, had put on her death certificate… Lung Cancer. She was Stage IV when they told her it was cancer on the Saturday before she died. This same doctor had given her the run around about what was making her have difficulty breathing for months. She had an X-Ray on Wednesday, Saturday they were telling her Breast Cancer, Monday she was dead. She had 4 lymph nodes popping out of the side of her neck, months before this X-Ray. She had increasing difficulty breathing. They told her she had several lesions on her liver, liquid around her heart, and liquid in her lungs. She was 33 years old. She was the mother of 4, two which had just been born 6 months earlier and were living with her. She went into cardiac arrest when they drained liquid from around her heart for the 3rd time in those 3 days. I could go on and repeat everything I have said since her passing but, I won’t. She was and is the hardest death I have had to deal with in my life to date. She will also be the reason that I continue to spread cancer awareness!!!

Click on the image to read My Sister

October 7th, 2011; I had a sharp pain in my right breast.
October 8th, 2011; I have a 6×8 inch mass in my right breast.
October 9th, 2011; Admitted to the hospital pending an exam by a Breast Specialist.
October 11th, 2011; I get an ultrasound and sent home.
October 18th, 2011; I have a mammogram and another ultrasound and finally told I do NOT have Breast Cancer.

As you can see, I have spent my whole life of 36 years so far, being affected by Cancer. (These are who I remember while writing this, so if I missed someone it was purely accidental.) Not to mention, all the women I have met since February of this year who are still battling the beast. I value these women and am glad to have them in my life! This past year I have met, well not actually met per se, became acquainted with my cousin (my mother’s mom’s nephew) Terry and come to find out he had two lumps removed from his breasts (chest) as well. Proving that this is not a “woman’s” disease, if you don’t know that men can also get Breast Cancer, please read ‘Men are not Immune.’

Cancer is devastating, it breaks families apart, it isn’t your friend; but, I am and I am telling you to stay on top of your health because early detection is key to surviving any cancer. As your friend I want you to be around for many more years to come. So, self-exam, see a medical practitioner, and For Jen’s Sake… spread the word, share the knowledge, and support the finding of cures for all cancers!!!

And on that note: I want to thank everyone who joined in this month for Breast Cancer Awareness, you have all made me proud and may you all have a Happy and Safe Halloween!!!

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: My Mammogram and Me

As I sit here in my semi-quiet house freezing my ass off with a furnace that likes to play “No Heat Today” games, I recall my thoughts and feelings from February.

February 6th, 2011 to be precise; and getting the call that my 33-year-old sister is in the hospital with Stage IV Breast Cancer. Fast forward two days to February 8th, 2011 and another phone call, “Your sister is dead.” Those moments were the most horrific moments of my life… that is until October 8th, 2011 when I spotted a massive lump in my breast. The pain was unimaginable; my paranoia was out of control… all I wanted was the pain to go away and for the lump to recede. All I wanted was a mammogram/ultrasound to tell me the lump was not cancerous. I wanted an answer immediately; that is what Emergency Rooms are for, aren’t they?

It was October 9th before I actually saw a doctor, those of you by my side through this whole ordeal you remember that from my earlier post, Breast Cancer Awareness Month: There’s a Lump in my Breast. I spent all day in a hospital bed before actually seeing a breast specialist on the 10th. Starving and thirsty from fasting, just in case there was to be a surgery, paranoid and restless from waiting to be seen, tired, cranky, in pain and tears… It was a day like no other as it was also the day that would have been my grandmother’s 75th birthday if Stomach/Liver Cancer had not taken her from our family 10 years ago. Just another typical day in the life of an atypical girl. 

Luckily, I was released and sent home with antibiotics for the “we think it’s an” infection that I was diagnosed with. My inner cynical bitch cried; “Bullshit! If it’s just an infection where the f@ck is the pus?” Don’t mind her she has driven doctors and nurses to an early grave for a good part of her miserable adult life.

I was released the same day I saw a breast specialist; still don’t know why she is special when all she did was grope the twins but, hey it’s whatever at this point. I went into hiding for over a week, because that is what I do when I am stressed. I make up bullshit reasons about why I can’t come to the door, the phone, the laptop, or my senses and well most of you believe it so thank you all for that. LOL Honestly, I was tired for a good part of the week; any time I am forced to take a prescription, my brain fights back by telling my body to hibernate. It’s perfectly normal…for me!

I managed to scrape my weak body out of bed on Tuesday for a Mammogram at the breast specialist’s office. And after two hours of erect nipples in a cold office building in nothing more than a hospital gown, I am still wondering why she is so special. Let me start off by saying my husband did his part by taking me to the appointment and sitting there patiently waiting for me to be done. I also have to give him credit for not being a man and going all ape-shit over a chick groping my twins err I mean, his twins. Because Lord knows one comment about that and I would have pulled out a tire iron and dumped his bloody ass in the Mississippi faster than you can spell it.

NOTE: I, Jenni being of somewhat sound mind and not quite sound but close body, swear that I was framed if by some cruel joke of Zeus that my husband, Luis ends up in the Mississippi River. In the immortal words of Jake Blues played by John Belushi in Blues Brothers…“Honest… I ran out of gas. I… I had a flat tire. I didn’t have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn’t come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out-of-town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts! IT WASN’T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!”

Anyway, I digress. So, at the doctor’s office I waited for my mammogram where they take X-Rayesque pictures of your boobs with a machine that is 1- cold as a meat locker at the North Pole 2- as comfortable as wringing out your hand in an old-fashioned wringer washer (which I have done by the way), and 3- not intended for any woman with a cup size over C. (Which I have been over since 4th grade) If I ever doubted that my gargantuan bust-line needed a reduction, watching the poor nurse juggle my boob with two hands reminded me that I am indeed due for a reduction STAT! If you have never had a mammogram consider yourself lucky and if you have and you thought it was no biggie… please grow bigger boobs and a painful firm lump before getting your next one, thank you.

The nurse took two standard pictures, one the straight forward kind and the second with the machine angled which I imagine with a woman with normal sized breasts is supposed to catch more of a side view. They do this on both breasts for a total of 4 pictures. It is uncomfortable, it is cold, and it is ridiculously hilarious/embarrassing to watch a nurse juggle a boob that is bigger than her whole entire head. I was asked to take a seat while the radiologist checked my “close-ups.” When the nurse came back she asked me to step up to the machine again because well, my boobs are special and need extra pictures. *Wink wink* After the last juggling session, she told me to sit in the waiting room and wait to get another ultrasound done. By this time, more than an hour had passed and another woman was waiting for her turn at the Boob Camera. By the way, I was the youngest woman in the doctor’s office and in the mammogram waiting room. That alone f@cks with your head!

“Ok Jennifer, we are ready for you.” The woman beside me stands up as I go to stand up. Oh flippin great wouldn’t you know it…we’re both Jennifer’s. Stupid 60’s and 70’s. The nurse apologized to me as I told her that I was there waiting on an ultrasound, she assured me that this didn’t usually happen because well seriously what are the chances that two women in the breast lab would be blessed with the same exact first name? As much as I wanted to tell her, “I am more important, bow down to me now peasant!” my sense of humor was missing in action, because I was freaking out about the length of time I had already spent in the clinic.

Before long I was back in the doctor’s office with my husband, awaiting the 5 words that could make or break my life! Fortunately for me my doctor doesn’t like 5 word sentences and told me I’m all clear. I was instructed to come back in 6 months or sooner depending on the breast lump, which they still believe to be an infection…I however, have come to know it as the illegal alien. Because of my family history with cancers I have to get yearly mammograms now, oh yippie how I look forward to the smashing and juggling of my bresteses!!!

So there you have it folks… I am not afflicted with Breast Cancer. I will be around a long time to talk shit and be a general pain in the ass. Yea me! I once again want to thank all of you who sent me prayers, thoughts, and well wishes during my schizophrenic meltdown into the abyss of paranoia and hypochondria. To those of you who wish to offer me a donation for this extremely comedic post just give me the word; I am a paypal account away. *Wink*

Now, it is your turn… self-examine, mammogram ‘em, don’t be a disappointment just make an appointment and always take care of those boobies!

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Oh and don’t forget to get involved and support Breast Cancer Awareness, preferably all year not just this month.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A Warrior’s Plea

Throbbing, burning,
shooting from within
firm inflammation
piercing my skin.

Weighty and heavy
from night ‘til day
please Lord oh please
just melt it away.

Crying and screaming,
this warrior’s plea
what did I do wrong
for this to happen to me?

Wishing on stars
reaching for an answer
please don’t let this lump
be from Breast Cancer.

Tired and weary
a mother and wife
this wasn’t the way
I pictured my life.

Praying like so many
trying to endure
please Lord oh please
just give us the cure.

For Jens Sake and Blognostics Joining Forces For Pinktober

As most of you should know by now, October (Pinktober) is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

I support it every year and this year it holds even more significance than it did in previous years.

In February of this year, my younger sister was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer and three days later she died. So of course that makes me more active in Breast Cancer Awareness, not just because I have lost my sister to it but, because I truly understand how the unthinkable can hit and penetrate your seemingly perfect life. After her death and I could finally face the world again, I started connecting with Breast Cancer battler’s (this just means that they are still battling this heinous disease.) and survivors.

My heart goes out to every one of them even though my sister never even had a chance to battle the beast. I have set up a challenge on Facebook as an event and would greatly appreciate if you would join and pass it on. If I have learned anything in this past few months is that life is more precious than you could ever possibly imagine.

Facebook Events Basics:

I would like all of you who join the event to have something pink visible on your person all month-long in October. The details are on the event so please check that out and join in on spreading more awareness for this horrific disease. Thank you.

Now for the exciting blogger’s news:

I was asked to be a Breast Cancer Awareness Spokeswoman for Blognostics, this site is a new site and was created by bloggers for bloggers. They will be running a contest for Breast Cancer Awareness that will begin on Oct. 1 and go through Oct.31, 2011.

Blognostics Contest Details:

Tell a story about how Breast Cancer has affected you and/or the person diagnosed, also how it has changed your life and/or theirs for better or worse. The story can be your own personal story, a friend, or a family member. It does have to be someone who you know personally, even if it’s just someone you know from a social network. But, they do have to be someone you have personal contact with.

Blognostics will also be asking for donations in the amounts of $1, $5, $10 or more to be donated to the organization that the 1st place winner chooses out of the four that Blognostics has available. Consider the donation to be not only useful for the organization and the people they help but, also a small contest entry fee. Donate what you can!

This contest is open to all bloggers. The only thing that you have to do is be a member of Blognostics, and to be a member you must have a blog. If you would like to take part please go to the site and make your account.

Here is what you will be doing:

-If your blog is a writing one than you will write a story, fiction not accepted (sorry but we want real life stories only), about the person that you have chosen. Tell us their/your story of being afflicted with Breast Cancer and how it has changed them and/or you.

-If you are a poet you can write a poem about the person you have chosen.

-If you are a photographer you can tell the story with photos. Use a photo of the person and whatever other photos you feel tell the story of how their having Breast Cancer affected you. You can write a story as well but, your main goal is to tell it with photos.

-If you are an artist who draws or paints, you will be submitting your original work of art that is either the person themselves or your interpretation of Breast Cancer. Please write something about the art piece so we can understand fully the meaning of it.

Please Include:

All contest entries should include the date when the person was diagnosed, how they battled it, if they are still battling or are now in remission, how many times they have battled it, any organization that they went through for help, and if they died, (R.I.P.) the day their suffering ended.

Prizes:

Blognostics is offering 3 prizes; 1st place, 2nd place, and 3rd place. All which include small ad space for a month on their site. 1st place winners will receive the honor of choosing the Breast Cancer organization that will receive the donations and their name will also be on the check that is presented with all of the donations raised. 1st place winners will also receive a small banner on the Blognostics site to place their ad for one month.
All entries must be in by October 31, 2011 before midnight in your time zone. Blognostics will choose and notify the winners during the first week of November.

So what are you waiting for? Go sign up on Blogsnostics if you aren’t already a member and let’s raise awareness for Breast Cancer. Don’t forget to join the Facebook event as well. If you have any questions please ask me or the Blognostics team. Thank you and good luck.