Monday, September 13, 2010

Words that really touched me

My friend, Marsi, who I have a lot in common with, recently wrote this poem.  I just have to share this with you.  Her words really touched me.  I remember my first shower after my mastectomy and her poem took me back to that moment in time.

Nearly Perfect,
Shower after 12 days of not.
The water hitting my skin,
So steamy and hot.

Undressing carefully,
Recognizing my scar.

Air hitting virgin skin,
Only partially marred.

Breast gone.

Matches right side.

Bravery, not so.

Cancer abide.

Stepping into the water,
Refreshing and scary.

Would it hurt, not sure,
Excusingly sparing.

Routinely lathering,
Not reaching, needing care.

Tender touch to rescue,
Holding hand, tears fair.

Not bothered by scar,
Emotions abound.

Needing that hand,
And the kiss that I found.

Hot water renewing,
Strength coming back.

Cancer is gone,
So different, the track.

Learning so much,
Unrecognizably so.

Needing so much,
OK to let go.

~Marsi White

Thank you Marsi for allowing me to post your poem.  I love it.  I'm sure many women, just like you and me, will find comfort in your poem.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Breast Density & Hormone Theraphy add to BC Risk

Ever since I was 39, when I started having yearly mammograms, I was told my breasts were dense.  That was surprising because my breasts were SO small - how could that be?  I was barely an A cup.  Seriously.  I quickly learned that dense breasts come in all shapes and sizes.

I found this article very interesting.  Two months before I found the lump (aka:  Milk Dud), I had to be put on progestin to stop a very serious menstral cycle.  I was on it for only a week.  Two months later, my milk dud that thrieved on hormones was discovered.  My life changed in an instant.  Remember your monthly self-checks! 

Breast Density and Hormone Therapy Add to Breast Cancer Risk

Categories: Breast Cancer, News, Screening/Prevention Breast Cancer Breast Density and Hormone Therapy Add to Breast Cancer Risk

Postmenopausal women with high breast density are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer, according to the results of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.[1] This risk increases with the use of hormone therapy.

Breast density refers to the extent of glandular and connective tissue in the breast. Breasts with more glandular and connective tissue—and less fat—are more dense. Women with higher breast density are at increased risk of developing breast cancer. Breast density can be assessed by mammography.

In this study researchers examined the relationship between breast density and breast cancer risk based on menopausal status and the use of postmenopausal hormones (either estrogen alone or estrogen plus progestin). Previous studies have indicated that postmenopausal use of estrogen plus progestin increases the risk of breast cancer.

The researchers collected data on 587,369 women who underwent 1,349,027 screening mammograms. Of these women, 14,090 were diagnosed with breast cancer. The women in the group were categorized by age, menopausal status, current use of postmenopausal hormones, and breast density (using the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System, or BIRADS, to classify density).

The researchers found that breast cancer risk was low among women with low breast density (BIRADS-1) and higher among women with high breast density (BIRADS-4). The risk increased with use of postmenopausal hormones, especially estrogen plus progestin. The data are outlined in the table below:

Table 1: Five-year risk of breast cancer for women age 55 to 59

No hormone therapy Estrogen Only Estrogen plus Progestin

Low Breast Density (BIRADS-1) 0.8% 0.9% 0.9%
High Breast Density (BIRADS-4) 2.4% 3.0% 4.2%

The risk of developing advanced-stage breast cancer was increased 1.7-fold for postmenopausal women with high density (BIRADS-4) who used postmenopausal hormones compared with their counterparts with average density (BIRADS-2).

The researchers concluded that women with high breast density are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer, especially if they use estrogen plus progestin.

[1] Kerlikowske K, Cook AJ, Buist DSM, et al. Breast cancer risk by breast density, menopause, and postmenopausal hormone therapy use. Journal of Clinical Oncology [published early online]. July 19, 2010.

Tonight pretty much all the networks are airing Stand Up To Cancer. I look forward to watching it with my boys.  In loving memory of my beautiful sister Susan - click on the link below to learn more about prevention and early detection of skin cancer:

Remember this: 
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer - more than 2 million skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the U.S. and that number is rising. Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, is the #1 cancer in men and women ages 20 to 29. Sue was almost 40 when she passed away after a 4 month hard fought battle.  Self-examination is key because while melanoma spreads quickly, it can be treated if caught early.

Moles, blemishes or freckles should be checked monthly and any changes should be communicated to your doctor. And remember - skin cancer does not discriminate against skin color, so everyone is potentially at risk.