Posts Tagged Breast Cancer
I was walking in a field, alone, when my footsteps began to feel lighter, and lighter until my feet were no longer touching the ground at all. I was trying to walk, but instead I was floating just inches above the ground. I woke myself up when I called out, “Mom?”
I was a life-long Republican, until one morning in 2011 set a wave of change in motion. I’d spent my life believing in the free enterprise system, believing that business is always good for the economy because it provides jobs for people, and that the people who run these big businesses have our best interest at heart, and value their employees by paying them well. In a perfect world, this might be true, but I’ve discovered otherwise.
I woke up and found a red spot on my breast. I noticed it when drying off after my shower. Peering into the mirror, I rubbed over it, and did a breast exam. No lumps, I thought, I must have slept with my arm there, or something.
The next morning the red spot was still there. Curious, I thought, as I dressed to go to work. My gut nagged at me off and on all day, so when I got home from work I went to the bathroom, removed my bra, and looked closely at the pink area about the size of my thumb.
I dressed, went straight to my laptop and typed in, “red spot on breast.” The information glaring at me from the screen was scary. The only two explanations that came up were mastitis, a breast infection seen in nursing mothers, and inflammatory breast cancer. Since I was fifty-six, and post menopausal, I knew it wasn’t mastitis.
I received the diagnosis on April 1, 2011. April Fools! You have breast cancer. I was standing in the reception area at work when I received the phone call from my doctor. I was dazed. There was no history of breast cancer in my family; this was something I thought could never happen to me.
I took the first appointment I could get at the local cancer center. The following week was a busy one. I had appointments for a port to be installed in a major vein near my heart to receive chemotherapy, an MRI, PET scan, and Chemo Class, where the nurse explained precautions I should take while in treatment.
I’ve always been curious about why things happen, and breast cancer was no exception. I looked first at my diet, which I believed was fairly healthy, since I was a long-time vegetarian. But as I became an avid label reader I discovered all sorts of problems with our food supply. Sugar, which is said by some to be as addictive as cocaine, is generously added to many convenience foods. Flavor enhancers, preservatives, flavors both natural and unnatural, are added, as well as dyes and products that cannot be considered food at all. These additives preserve food for a longer shelf life, but they also make food addictive, thereby increasing sales, resulting in profits for happy shareholders. I believe this to be the root of obesity in our country.
How, I wondered, are these things allowed in our food supply? Further research showed that chemical and pesticide companies are leading the way in modifying the seeds of our food supply. But, that makes no sense. Why is that not a conflict of interest? Why is Monsanto, a company that produces pesticides, genetically modifying our vegetables, fruits, and even nuts? Don’t they realize that even if you rinse them off, watering makes the chemicals seep into the ground, and the veggies slurp it up. If pesticides are what they drink, then pesticides are what’re inside.
I found many articles on bullying techniques by Monsanto, arguments for why GMO’s are healthy, and safe, but also found that many other countries have banned GMO seeds. Then I found out about The Monsanto Protection Act, which was written into an unrelated Bill and approved by Congress. It’s premise is that even if GMO’s are later found to be unsafe, or unhealthy, Monsanto will be allowed to continue this practice. What??? If Monsanto is correct, and there is nothing for us to worry about, then why was The Monsanto Protection Act even necessary? And what is the problem with truth in labeling? To protect investments, and profits? What about the health of our society? In my opinion, Monsanto has a monopoly over our food supply. Isn’t that illegal?
My research also uncovered a plethora of environmental causes of cancer. Toxic chemicals, invade our everyday lives. Toxins in our plastic food containers; did you know that canned foods are lined with BPA, and the foods are often cooked right in the cans? Would you add a scoop of BPA, or a block of plastic to a nice big pot of homemade soup? Of course not, but that’s what we’re eating when we open a can of food lined with BPA.
We breathe contaminated air, and eat meat and diary treated with growth hormones. Animals are raised in terrible conditions, and some farmed seafood is raised in virtual cesspools. Fluoride, an industrial waste and neurotoxin, is added to our water supply: Chemicals spill into our groundwater from fracking.
The commercials paid for by gas and oil companies tell us they’ve been safely fracking for more than sixty years. But all anyone needs to do is search the Internet for fracking accidents and spills to find that they’ve been fracking a lot, but not safely. Search again for drilling sites close to the increasing number of earthquakes we’re seeing. Fracking involves taking a virtual jackhammer to the Earth’s crust, and injecting toxic chemicals that they don’t have to disclose into the Earth. These chemicals don’t stay buried in the ground; they end up in our water, and in our environment. And how many times would you take a jackhammer to the foundation of your home and still consider it structurally sound?
Toxic ingredients are added to makeup and body care products, too. It’s not hard to find a list of them: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/dirty-dozen-cosmetic-chemicals/
What have we done to our planet, and its population? Is everyone at the Food and Drug Administration asleep? Where is the accountability? And why do we even buy these products?
I believe the answer is that we are just too busy in our lives to pay attention. We believe measures are in place to protect us from unsavory business practices. We’ve fallen asleep, we drank the kool-aid, and we’ve become apathetic. We take the word of others over the common sense in our guts.
Then I found out about some extraordinary research at the Cleveland Clinic. They’ve developed prevention for breast cancer. It’s been sitting, unfunded, for years! And the research is solid: 100% effective in preventing breast cancer in all three mouse-models. Even mice bred specifically to develop breast cancer failed to when given this vaccine. Further, mice that already had breast cancer saw tumor reduction when given the vaccine.
But sadly, a vaccine that prevents breast cancer would put the big pink charities, and many pharmaceutical companies, out of business. They refused to fund this research. I was furious when I heard that. Only about twenty million dollars was needed to fund this research, and billions are raised each year. The difference between the “cures” we’re running around and throwing money at, and “prevention” is enormous. Prevention means never needing to spend the $300,000 billed to my insurance company to buy toxic chemo and radiation. Mastectomies would not need to rob us of our femininity, but most importantly, patients would not need to endure the life-long side effects of these treatments. Lives would be saved, families could be raised by their mothers.
The more I dug into these things, the more I found one common thread. Greed, and worship of the almighty dollar. Big businesses deemed too big to fail. Lobbyists throwing millions upon millions of dollars at campaigns geared to sway politicians. I found greed on both sides of the aisle, both democrats and republicans.
As I dug into some of these political platforms I discovered an enormous gap in what they stood for. It’s apparent to me that republicans stand for money, and a strong economy, and while there is nothing wrong with that, they also support businesses that export jobs, keep money in off shore accounts, and some even renouncing citizenship in order to avoid paying taxes. They protect the wealthy. Period.
But, most of us aren’t wealthy. Most of us are normal, middle class people trying to earn a decent living, and live a healthy life. Where is our representation?
At sixty-one, my cancer is metastatic. It’s in both of my lungs, in my bones, and the side effects of removing lymph nodes during my mastectomy is causing fluid to build up around both of my lungs, and my heart. It’s too late for me. I drank the kool-aid early on. Nothing I can do at this point will reverse this disease that is occurring more frequently in spite of the billions of dollars raised over decades to “cure” it.
But I learned some valuable lessons. I’ve learned that I should never assume that just because something is approved by the government means it’s safe. I’ve learned that some politicians advocate for a clean, healthy environment, and for the well being of all people, not just the wealthy, or corporations. I’ve learned that pink ribbons are a marketing tool used by companies and charity organizations to improve sales and profits. I’ve learned that it’s a travesty that we allow shareholders to become a part of our healthcare system, making healthcare unaffordable for so many. I’ve learned that it all simmers down to greed, and ego.
A society that champions clean air, a clean food supply, and shows compassion for people is the society I wish to leave behind. But, I understand, from the perspective of my own research, that the Republican Party will never champion these vital civil rights.
I’ve concluded the free enterprise system will only work if devoid of greed and selfishness. Business is good for the economy only when there is accountability to the planet on which we dwell. The people who run big businesses may have had our best interest at heart at one time, but many have lost their way and identified success with an unlimited stream of money…for themselves.
Charity organizations need to have caps on salaries so that the funds raised are not just lining the pockets of the fortunate few who run them. And care must be taken that those who sit on their boards of directors are not there for financial gain because that’s a conflict of interest.
Our forefathers dreamed of a land of opportunity for all, not just a privileged few. So many injustices could be made right if only people, and not money, were our central concern. Thomas Jefferson called for a government by the people, for the people. We’ve irresponsibly morphed this into government of the people for the corporations. It’s shameful in my view, and I can no longer stand with those who would put profits before people, or withhold the truth.
Share love. Reject greed, and judgment. Embrace The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Our world is precious, our society to be valued, but never, ever should love of money overshadow our love of one another.
WHAT IS PREVENTION? prevention |priˈvenCHən| verb the action of stopping something from happening or arising: crime prevention | the treatment and prevention of AIDS.
You might have noticed October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Again. I’m a survivor. I get it. I wouldn’t wish this disease, or its treatments, on anyone.
Like most everyone else who receives a breast cancer diagnosis, I hit the Internet and researched causes of cancer. I found a treasure trove of tips, herbs, exercise, and foods that can help prevent cancer. I found environmental toxins that are shockingly allowed into our food supply, our air, and our water. The list is enormous.
Surely others have done the same research. Why then, is breast cancer still so prevalent in our world? I have a theory.
Most current research indicates that every body has cancer cells, but in healthy individuals they remains dormant, kind of like the herpes simplex virus that causes fever blisters. That makes sense to me.
Next we have triggers. For example, I get fever blisters if I get stressed, dehydrated, or bump my lip. Those things, as well as a fever will cause fever blisters on my lip. Now let’s consider viruses, like the Human Papilloma virus. What if similarly, a virus causes breast cancer?
For me, that might go like this… Like everybody else, I already had cancer cells in my body. Then, as I went about life in our current environment I was introduced to triggers; chemicals in food, in cosmetics, BPA, additives, dyes, and the virus that we now suspect causes breast cancer. The list is very long; our environment is now full of cancer-causing agents.
At some point, I was exposed to the virus that causes breast cancer, and I reached a saturation point and my body’s ability to block the triggers from unleashing the cancer could not keep up. Now the virus is active and I have breast cancer.
Could this be why we can’t seem to get this disease under control? Could we be looking at it all wrong? Marching to the wrong drummer? Isn’t it time to change the conversation from awareness and cures, to preventing breast cancer? I’m weary of all the hype around awareness. I’m sick – quite literally – from the cures.
Isn’t it time to change the dialogue from cures to prevention?
Spring can’t get here soon enough this year.
We moved in minus nine-degree weather, shivering with the doors wide open while the movers hefted our belongings into a truck in the snow.
It’s not just me; the entire country has endured one of the harshest winters on record. Who else is ready for some warmer weather, and sunshine?
I have to admit I’ve been stalking local nurseries, driving slowly past gated, and chained storefronts, peering in at greenhouses full of colorful flowers and plush evergreens. Cabin fever has me delirious, longing for Spring bulbs that will soon splash our yards with colorful tulips, daffodils, and irises. I can almost smell the fragrant Hyacinths and dainty dianthus that will sooth me while I sip iced tea, and read a book while soaking up some vitamin D. Remember to apply sunscreen if you’re out for more than twenty minutes, though.
How much longer must we wait? A quick check of my calendar indicates Spring is only a week away! I’m elated! In fact, in makes me so happy I’ve arranged a Countdown to Spring with a one-week sale on my book, Hope, Inc.
This is how it works…
March 14 & 15 Hope, Inc. will be available for just 99 cents on Amazon.com
March 16 & 17 buy it for only $1.99
March 18 & 19, the last two days before Spring grab a copy for $2.99
Once Spring arrives it goes to full price again, so hurry!
If you know someone who loves crime mysteries pass this along and let’s Countdown to Spring!
Seth stood up, and raised his champagne glass. “To Nolan, whose research is on the brink of saving millions of lives every single year.”
“To Nolan.” Amy, Bridget, and Suzanne said in unison, and clinked their champagne flutes with Nolan’s.
“Suzanne, you must be so proud of your husband.” Bridget said. “I can’t help but notice the admiration in your eyes. It lights up your whole face.”
Susanne nodded. “I couldn’t be prouder. And Nolan insists the three of you are equally responsible for the success of his research.”
“Not true,” Amy said. “Nolan is our fearless leader, and we are merely minions doing his bidding.”
“Look!” Seth pointed at Nolan. “His head is getting bigger by the minute. You girls better knock it off with the compliments or his enormous ego won’t fit through the door of the lab in the morning.”
“Seth!” Amy punched him on the shoulder.
The steak and lobster were mouthwatering. But Seth could hardly take his eyes off Amy the entire evening. That little black dress, those long legs even sexier in stilettos, hair flowing like silk over smooth shoulders. Her southern charm and gentle way came out more with each sip of champagne. He found her irresistible tonight.
They celebrated into the evening until Seth noticed Suzanne’s eyelids getting heavy.
Nolan reached over, and took her hand. “Ready to call it a night, love?”
Suzanne tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle a yawn. “I guess all the excitement tired me. I hope the rest of you will stay. Nolan will leave his credit card with the waiter.”
Seth pushed back from the table. “I’m stuffed and getting tired myself.”
Pulling his keys from his pocket, Seth nodded toward his car. “Is everyone okay to drive? I switched to water and coffee awhile ago; I can chauffer all of you.”
“I wouldn’t mind a ride.” Amy seemed grateful for the offer.
“I’m okay, but thanks Seth.” Bridget hugged Suzanne, and smiled at Nolan. “Thank you again for a decadent dinner.” Waving, she headed to her car. “Have a nice evening, everyone. I’ll see you all in the morning bright and early.”
Seth chuckled, and watched as Nolan took Suzanne’s hand, waved at his colleagues, and started across the street.
“Nolan!” Suzanne shouted, and Seth turned just in time to see the see an old Cadillac sedan slam into Nolan’s back with a sickening crack, sending him soaring.
Nolan felt his wife jerk his arm, but the force ripped him away from her. In an instant he was in the air. Higher, higher…
Dizzy and confused, he looked down and saw Suzanne’s eyes wide, her mouth open in a piercing scream.
Can’t breathe! Panic gripped him. Pain seared his spine. The impact knocked the air from his lungs, and everything went into slow motion. He could hear Suzanne crying out for him in the street below. The pain of a thousand tiny razors coursed fiercely through his body.
He gasped for air, arms and legs flailing. His heart raced with panic when he realized the black pavement was rushing toward him. He could see all of them; hear their shouts, and then… Nothing.
“Nolan!” Suzanne screamed.
Seth rushed to keep her from running into the street, quickly looking over his shoulder to see if Amy and Bridget were safe. He whipped around in time to see the sedan speeding away into the night; horrified that he never saw its brake lights come on.
“Oh, my God, stop!” Seth screamed after the car.
Nolan crashed to the street with the horrific sound of shattering bones.
“Call 911!” Bridget shouted. She struggled with her purse to find her cell phone.
Amy sank to her knees on the sidewalk. “Oh, please, please, somebody help us! We need an ambulance!”
Seth was in the street, at Nolan’s side in an instant.
The angle of Nolan’s body was frightening. His left leg and foot were twisted and mangled, left arm bent at his side, and right arm lay lifeless above his head. Blood saturated the pant legs of his suit and trickled onto the street, but most alarming was the growing puddle of blood oozing from the back of his head.
Suzanne crumpled beside Nolan, wailing hysterically.
Seth took off his suit jacket and draped it around her, but she ripped it off, reaching out to place it under Nolan’s head.
“No, Suz, don’t move him until the paramedics get here.” He took the jacket from her and draped it around her shoulders again, crouching over to warm her.
She trembled so violently it shook the two of them.
He shouted toward the restaurant, “Has anyone called an ambulance! We need an ambulance here now!”
Chapter Two – Sneak Peek
Nolan’s cell phone rang just as he settled down at his computer. Before he could answer he heard Seth scramble to get out of his chair without falling. Shaking his head, he picked up the call. “Nolan Jennings. Oh yes, Ms. Davenport how are you? Good, good. Uh huh. Yes, a site visit can be arranged at your convenience. Perfect. I’ll see you in a few days. Thank you for your consideration. I will, I will. Have a nice day.”
“Yes!” Nolan pumped his fist in victory. “We’re at the top of the heap! Mona Davenport is coming to our little ol’ laboratory. She wants to do a site visit, and she’s bringing some members of her advisory board.”
All three of them burst into his office high-fiving, Amy jumped up and down, her long dark ponytail bouncing behind her.
“You’ll make history, Nolan.” Bridget’s eyes glistened with tears that hadn’t yet spilled over. “In the company of Salk and Pasteur.”
“Yes you will.” Seth nodded and smiled.
“Our team will make history,” Nolan emphasized. “It’s always our team. I couldn’t have done this without the three of you.”
Nolan beamed. His research was finally ready for prime time. Ready to test in human clinical trials, and if it worked in humans the way it worked in mice, it could save millions from a horrible disease.
Nolan buried his head in his hands in mock despair. “If we get funding I’ll have another truck load of paperwork to get permission from the FDA to test it.”
Amy patted his shoulder. “Awww, there’s always a down side, but it’s so worth it.”
A timer went off in the lab. “Back to work.” Bridget shoved on her glasses and headed toward the experiment she’d set up.
“And I need to get this morning’s data recorded in the database.” Amy turned gracefully on her heels and followed Bridget out the door.
Seth extended his hand to Nolan for their secret handshake, and nodded.
Nolan called his wife, Suzanne, to tell her the good news, took two big bites from his donut, and chugged half his coffee.
He never minded publishing and research–those were the gratifying aspects of his work. But, grant proposals also went with the territory, and even after eighteen years as an immunologist Nolan much preferred to be in his lab with his test tubes and mice.
Dr. Nolan Jennings swiped his security card in the reader, and walked briskly through his lab calling out a happy “Good Morning” on the way to his private office.
His research team was already performing their morning check on the mice, and making notes to enter into the animal trial database. Eager for an update on their findings, he quickly listened to messages, hoping for at least one response to his latest round of grant proposals.
The research had been peer reviewed, and published in the prestigious “Journal of Immunology and Science”. This was groundbreaking science, and he was absolutely confident in his findings. But, securing funding to advance this type of research was proving to be difficult. In medicine, the biggest breakthroughs were often met with the most resistance.
Is the world ready? He wondered for about the hundredth time. A quick scan of his email revealed nothing urgent, so he pulled on his lab coat and strode into the lab.
“How is everyone this morning? And how are our little ones faring?”
“Still no evidence of disease.” Bridget Mallory leaned over one of the cages, then stood up and removed her glasses, as she did about fifty times a day.
“Excellent! What about the group bred for disease?” Nolan asked.
“None of them have developed a single symptom.” Seth McCleary called out from his desk, which was nothing more than a lowered continuation of the black lab counter top with the addition of a few built in drawers and cubbyholes he’d stuffed with mail, notes, and journals. “Any word from the foundation?”
“Not yet. It takes time.” Nolan surveyed the wall of cages that housed the mice, sticking his finger through to pet a few of them.
The door buzzer sounded, and Bridget moved quickly to open it for Amy Garcia, who balanced a tray of coffee, and a box of donuts. Setting the pastries down in the designated break area, she passed out coffee, and took a read of their faces. “No word yet?” She asked in her Texas drawl.
“I’m sure we’ll hear soon.” Bridget smiled, put her glasses on, and bent over to observe the mice.
Nolan took a sip of his coffee, plopped two donuts on a paper towel, and headed back to his office. “If anyone needs me I’ll be up to my nose in another grant proposal.”
Amy called after him, “When are we going to sequence your DNA so we can clone your metabolism?”
“It’s not genetics, it’s gender,” Nolan called back.
“It’s because you don’t sleep,” Bridget teased.