Friday, September 14, 2007

I am so thankful to you, Whymommy...

Every day, I try very hard to remember to be thankful for all the many blessings I have in my life: my family, my friends, my health, and my home, to name only a very few.

Today, I received a very special gift from a very special person:

Thank-you, Whymommy, for passing along this shwanky new "Nice Matters" award! This gift means so very much to me, because it came from YOU.

If you are new here and haven't already had the privilege of "meeting" her, Whymommy is a fellow-blogger, wife and mother of two little boys. She is also fighting a courageous battle against Inflammatory Breast Cancer. She has taken up the fight on many fronts: not only is she going through aggressive chemotherapy, which will be followed by surgery, she is educating the rest of us through her words on so many, many levels.

She has been writing detailed accounts of her symptoms and treatment, in order that we all might be better informed about breast cancer. Her goal is to share, and to inform, in the hope that ultimately, no other woman or family will ever have to go through what she and her family are enduring right now.

On top of all of this, she writes beautifully and poignantly about her thoughts and feelings. Her words resonate in my head, and regularly make me pause and think. She makes me even more grateful for all the blessings that I enjoy. She makes me want to somehow "do better"; live a more aware existence, and take joy in what is present and happening around me, rather than dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future.

Whymommy has been a wonderful friend and teacher to me over the past few months, and I know for a fact that she has touched the lives of many, many more people through her blog, and in person. She is such an inspiration to all of us.

I can think of no better way to say "thank-you" to Whymommy than to once again post the incredible piece she wrote on her own blog, several months ago. And I ask that each and every one of you, dear readers, copy it and post it on your blogs, too. E-mail it to everyone you know. Because sharing information is such a tremendously important part of beating this terrible, life-threatening disease.

Thank you.

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

Whymommy can be found at her blog, Toddler Planet. If you would like to join us in support of this wonderful woman, contact Canape at the Team Whymommy page.

Together, we can all help Whymommy Kick Cancer's Ass!!

1 comment:

canape said...

You certainly deserve this!

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