Do it for the kids

As part of Children’s Cancer Awareness and Advocacy Day today, my daughter and four of her friends went to Capitol Hill to lobby with Cure Search to raise awareness for children’s cancer. If a bunch of 15-year-olds can try to make a difference, maybe you can too.  This year, more than ever, we need to make certain that Congress continues to invest in research for pediatric cancers so that every child is guaranteed a cure. Please contact your Congressperson or Senator by phone, letter or email to ask for:

  • Increased children’s cancer research funding.
  • Increased incentives to rapidly advance the development of new life saving treatments.
  • Increased support and education for survivors.

Your voice matters. Together, we can beat this disease.

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Get on board

I grew up living near the ocean. For me, being on the water feels like meditation. Just after I finished my treatment, one of my chemo buddies talked me into joining her in a ‘learn to row’ weekend sponsored by WeCanRowDC. We were part of a motley crew ranging in age from 20’s to 70+. It was an amazing experience.  WeCanRowDC is a team of breast cancer survivors that rows for fun on the Potomac River near the Watergate & Lincoln Memorial and races in world class regattas including the Head of the Charles. Go Team!

A couple of years ago, I also joined GoPink!DC.  This DC-based team was formed four years ago by two NIH scientists and is just one of a rapidly growing number of dragon boat teams of breast cancer survivors on all continents. Our team includes women in treatment currently, some who finished recently, and women who are long-term survivors.

I’m kind of a jock, but a lot of my teammates aren’t. And that’s what I like about these teams. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. And neither do we. I love watching new members go from defining themselves as cancer patients/survivors to identifying as athletes. The experience is empowering on so many levels.

So, why do I tell you this? Because I urge you to get on the water too.  Rowing and dragon boating help survivors rebuild physical strength and mental focus, renew self-image, and develop bonds with women who have had similar cancer experiences. If you live in the Washington DC area, you’re welcome to join us. Check out our sites, GoPink!DC and WeCanRowDC,to learn more about our teams and to find links to teams in your area. *Shameless self-promotion alert* – if you want to donate money to GoPink!DC, here’s a link or that too!

If you decide to try out rowing or dragon boating, be sure to follow up and let me know how you like it. Who knows……maybe one day you’ll be either on our team or racing against us. Enjoy!

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A trial saved my life

Dr. Peter Bach’s  New York Times Health Blog today got me thinking about clinical trials. I had the dumb luck to be randomized into the most successful arm of the three-arm Herceptin trial. My normally low-key doctor was giddy w/delight when she told me the study’s results prove Herceptin is a lifesaver for people like me. That study was a major breakthrough in breast cancer treatment.

I know a lot of people are afraid of clinical trails. But it’s important to remember that randomization typically assigns patients to receive either the currently accepted course of treatment or the experimental treatment. No patient’s cancer is left untreated in the name of a ‘control’.

If your doctor recommends a trial, don’t summarily dismiss it. Ask questions and look for more information to determine your best options.  My favorite resource is, a registry of federally and privately supported clinical trials conducted in the United States and around the world. It gives information about a trial’s purpose, who may participate, locations, and phone numbers for more details. Also check out the blog, Cure talk It’s got loads of information including this list of current breast cancer trials:

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Victims, Bravery, and Beating the Odds

I never understand why people living with cancer are viewed as ‘victims.’  It makes us sound so pathetic. Yup, this whole cancer thing can be scary. But a ‘victim’…… I don’t think so.

Referring to cancer patients as ‘brave’ drives me crazy too. What is that all about?  When I was in treatment, a well-intentioned, total stranger at the supermarket tearfully congratulated me for being so brave. Huh? She didn’t know anything about me other than the fact that I was bald and skinny. If I was brave that day, it was more likely for for taking two kids to the cookie aisle.

My other pet peeve: the so-called odds.  Doctors and everyone else who points to the odds are mistaken in not realizing that odds are meaningless on an individual level. Even when it’s only 2%, somebody always comes out a winner.

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Welcome to Cancer Land

I lost my husband to stomach cancer when I was 30 and thought that gave me the ‘get out of jail free’ card when it came to cancer in my life.  Delusional, I know. …

When I was 44, I was diagnosed with a very aggressive from of breast cancer (stage 3) and while I was in treatment, my younger sister found out she had stage 4 lung cancer. We called ourselves “the cancer sisters.” She died 11 months after her diagnosis. Not sure why I’m the one who  lived to tell the story. But here I am. Consider me your scout in the wilderness of cancer land.

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