Although October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (and you can click the link to find low-cost screening options in your area), May has me thinking about my breasts. Partly because each May I participate in the Boat Of Hope benefit, a fund-raiser for the Hope Chest Dragon Boat Team of WNY. I cook gluten-free snacks and serve them up to folks supporting the team, a great bunch of women who have formed “a very positive support group empowering breast cancer survivors.” I think it is incredible that the Hope Chest Team has banded together to support each other while engaging in a physician-approved exercise program uniquely designed for women recovering from breast cancer. I remember when a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer and was told after surgery that she shouldn’t exercise or even carry her purse on that arm because of the risk of lymphedema. The Hope Chest Team exercises together and some of them even race a dragon boat! I am not a doctor, but this makes sense to me, so I do what I can to support the team. This year I made chocolate-quinoa breakfast bars, raspberry-coconut-almond blondies, Vietnamese noodle salad, my neighborhood BFF’s famous salsa, apple cider vinegar hummus, and balsamic fruit “salad.” The recipes can be found here.
You know why else I’m thinking about my boobs? Because another good friend of mine was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer this month. She’s my age, which either means she’s young, or my idea of “old” is changing as I age. (I’m 41.) Terrifying. I’m so glad we have Roswell Park Cancer Institute practically in our backyard. She’s a romance reader, so I’m going to drop off a box of books this afternoon and a roasted chicken next week. I doubt she’ll feel like eating it after chemo, but her daughter has a thing for my husband’s chicken. She calls it “Mr. Ben’s chicken.” So cute! (Note to self: ask Ben to roast a chicken. And mash potatoes.) I also just called the Breast Cancer Network of WNY and set up a time to pick up a bag full of breast cancer books (including Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book, highly recommended by my breast cancer survivor friend), support group pamphlets, and survivor aids for her. The BCNWNY offers educational meetings, quality of life activities, social events, and support group sessions. They are “local women working together to change the breast cancer story in our community.” I love that I can make a phone call and be given a way to help my friend. In fact, I’m so grateful, I’m going to bust out my checkbook and make a tax-deductible donation. If you feel the urge to donate to any of these organizations as well, I’m sure details can be found on their websites.
Why else am I thinking about breasts? My high school BFF flunked her mammo. (Her boobs are fine.) AND I have this chronic pain in my arm that I KNOW is caused by bad posture, typing, and yoga, but all these things add up, and I called the radiology place, and boom they gave me an appointment for the next day, and what do you know I flunked my freaking mammo, too. More pictures. Everything looks good but we’d like to do a sonogram to make sure. A really long sonogram during which the ultrasonographer took a zillion pictures and would say exactly nothing about what was on the screen. The verdict: cysts. Tons of them, which if you’ve ever seen my boobs, seems hard to believe. If my breasts are full of cysts, then I would be an A—– without them. Since they don’t bother me, I get to keep them, and I’m glad my boobs really are fine. Really glad. And grateful. And you can bet the farm on me going boob-in next May for another mammogram. If you are around my age and have breasts, may I suggest you get a mammogram, too? (Actually, I know a man who had breast cancer, so I’m not sure the guys get a free pass on this one.) It only hurts for a second, and the girls will forgive you, I promise. May is almost over, but you could have a Juno-mammo or a Fourth of Mammo…pick your month and go, go, go! Early detection is key.
Feel free to give me a shout out if you need more encouragement!