Tuesday 23 October 2012

It's Not Something to Celebrate

For the last week, I've been avoiding something: looking at last year's calendar.  I broke down today and confirmed the anniversary I had been trying to forget.

Last year, on Tuesday, October 18, a doctor told me and Geoff that I have Stage IV Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer.  Later that day, I told my parents, my boss and our little girl.  It wasn't as hard as you would think.  We knew it was coming, most of the crying was done.  The meeting with the doctor just made it real. He had the biopsy results. 

To this day, I still have trouble believing it.  I keep thinking there must have been some kind of mistake or misunderstanding.  I can't have cancer.  I can't be dying.  Then I remind myself that they did the biopsy... on my breast... and it was cancerous.  I have breast cancer.

I suppose the upside of living a year with advanced breast cancer is that you lived for a year.

But it's still not an anniversary I celebrate.

P.S.  I can't close without taking a moment to recognize all the support we have received in the last year from friends, family, neighbours, Transport Canada, Lena's school, Mom and Dad's church, and of course the hospital and community care workers.  Last October 18, I was very sick and very scared, and by the time chemo started at the end of the month, very overwhelmed.  I don't know what Geoff and I would have done without that support.  I just don't know.  Thank you.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Dear Pandora: Think Before You Pink

This being October, we seem inundated with corporations and sports teams acknowledging Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Just before our trip down to Disney World, I received this email from the company that makes Pandora jewellery with a special offer of a free pink bracelet with a $100 purchase and a note that "a percentage of proceeds from the retail price of select charms, necklaces and pendants benefits the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation..."

Of course, I'm not asking you to rush down to Pandora. I'm not advertizing, I'm asking you to think, before you pink. As you know, I too support the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, and I encouraged you to support it through my participation in the Run for the Cure. My concern about Pandora's support is that the company doesn't tell us how much it is donating for each purchase. Some companies give a set amount and our individual pink purchases don't raise the amount. Pandora gives an amount per purchase. However, it isn't specific about which products trigger a donation, nor what is the percentage of proceeds donated. That bothered me.

Farther down, you will see my email to Pandora asking the company to take this opportunity to provide more information for those of us who think before we pink.

As I mention in my email, for my birthday last fall, just after my diagnosis, Sweetie and the Bean bought me a Pandora bracelet with a pink ribbon charm. The bracelet has become a special way for our family to commemorate our life together -- my favourites are the soccer ball and the teapot. I like the Pandora products. But wouldn't it be nice if Pandora took an extra step towards transparency in its support for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation by providing details on how much it gives from which purchases. I've asked them to do it.

And I ask you to think, before you pink.

PANDORA Club <pandora@club.pandora.net>
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Monday, October 1, 2012 4:18:03 PM
Subject: Receive a Pink PANDORA Bracelet during October

My jewelleryMy wishlistMY DESIGNSMY STORES

Show Your Support Against Breast Cancer with PANDORA
Dear Katherine,

There are many ways to show your support in the fight against Breast Cancer, and none are as beautiful as our charms. For the entire month of October, when you purchase $100 or more of PANDORA jewellery, you’ll receive one of our pink leather bracelets* (a $50 retail value).
A percentage of proceeds from the retail price of select charms, necklaces and pendants benefits the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s vision of creating a future without breast cancer. Visit cbcf.org for more information.

* See participating stores for details. Good while supplies last. Limit one per customer. Find your nearest PANDORA retailer by clicking here.
Kind regards,
Pandora Club

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
To: "CAConsumer@PANDORA.net" <CAConsumer@PANDORA.net>

Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 11:40:19 AM
Subject: Re: Receive a Pink PANDORA Bracelet during October

I appreciate the support Pandora is offering to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation through this offer, however your company could be more transparent about it's actual level of support. More and more, women like myself with breast cancer are encouraging our friends and family to "think before they pink." 

What I mean is that before purchasing the obiquitous pink merchandise, we should inform ourselves about what exactly our purchase is supporting. It is helpful that you have been clear that you are supporting the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Consumers can easily confirm that this is a legitimate charity which publishes information about its administrative and fundraising costs, as well as it's major areas of spending. But how much is Pandora providing? From your email, I don't know if Pandora is giving five cents per charm or something more significant. I don't know if your donation is capped or if when I spend more, you really give more.

If you take a look at recent postings in social media, you can learn about the growing concern about the "pinkification" of breast cancer. From there, Pandora has an opportunity to improve the nature of its support. It would be very much appreciated by the breast cancer community, and particularly by me. Pinkification has given many North Americans the impression that a breast cancer diagnosis is the entrée to a happy club. Don't let your company be fooled. There is no cure for advanced breast cancer. I too support the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation because it supports research that may find the cure that will save my life.

Last October, I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. A month later, on my birthday, my husband and young daughter bought me my first Pandora bracelet, with a pink ribbon charm. If Pandora would take this opportunity to be more transparent about what it is donating, or has donated, to the Foundation, I would wear my bracelet with even more pride.

Thank you for considering my request.

Katherine Moynihan
(see my Kate Has Cancer blog at http://katebreastcancer.blogspot.ca/)

Saturday 13 October 2012

Metatastic Breast Cancer Day

Yay! Today is the official day to, um, celebrate, or perhaps to recognize, metastasized breast cancer.  Hooray!

If you really want to do something about metastasized breast cancer, find a way to contribute to finding a cure.  Don't wear pink for me, though I do appreciate the thought.  If I am to live to see my grandchildren, what I need is a cure.  Please consider giving to an organization like the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation which contributes a significant amount of its fundraising to research.

To all of you who pledged your financial support for my participation in last month's Run for the Cure, thank you.  You have made a difference that just might save my life.

Please think before you pink.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Having a Rough Day?

Last January, I wrote about the Reiki principles that had caught my attention (click here to read that post).  I called them my positive attitude exercise regime.  As I go through each day, I try to remind myself to consider these principles, especially on the tough days.

Are you having a rough day?  Try these, just for today, just for this moment, try:

Just for today, I will not be angry.

Just for today, I will not worry.

Just for today, I will be grateful.

Just for today, I will do my best.

Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing.

I hope it helps you.

Monday 1 October 2012

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

A year ago today, I wasn't worried about the lump my gynaecologist had found on my breast.  It felt like one I'd had five years before on the other breast -- a fullness that went away after it had been determined to be benign. 

A year ago today I didn't know that the lump was invasive ductal breast cancer.

I didn't know that my weird blood test results were a reflection of the tumours that riddled my liver.

I didn't know that my aching back wasn't "out" but broken in several places.

I didn't know that most women who get breast cancer don't actually have it in their families.

And I didn't know that men get breast cancer.

I didn't know that in about 10% of the cases, breast cancer has already spread to distant organs before it's found. 

Nor did I know that metastasised breast cancer cannot be cured.

A year ago, all I know was that October = pink  = breast cancer.  I thought that breast cancer was an easy cancer.

Well, it wasn't easy telling my little girl I have Stage IV breast cancer.  No, this year hasn't been easy at all.

In the last year, I have had 14 rounds of chemotherapy, 10 radiation sessions, 4 CT scans, 3 MRIs, 2 echocardiograms and a MUGA scan.  I couldn't count the blood tests, appointments with doctors, nurses, and social workers.  Also, my freezer has been filled twice and I`ve been given at least a half dozen hats and two wigs.

Yesterday I power-walked 5km and raised $1295.00 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.  It will use that money (most of which was generously given by you, my readers) for awareness, support and research.

Because a year later, there is still no cure for breast cancer.  And I need a cure.

The Bean tells me that anything is possible.  Smart girl.