Breast Health Outreach & Education in Your Neighborhood

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The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Delaware’s MOST trusted breast cancer resource has a few upcoming outreach and education programs coming to your neighborhood. Please mark your calendars to join us …..

 

 

VIDA Living a Healthy Lifestyle Bilingual Health and Screening Fair

Saturday, April 2, 2016

11:30 am to 2:30 pm

Multicultural Church and Community Center, 105 NE Front Street, Milford, DE 19963

Join us for a day of breast health education, free screenings, and information on how to live a healthy lifestyle on Saturday, April 2, 2016 from 11:30am to 2:30pm at the Multi-Cultural Church & Community Center in Milford. The day will include: Clinical Breast Exams provided on site, Mammogram appointments available on the van (call 1-888-672-9647 to register), Health screening and insurance information from many vendors, and Glucose, Cholesterol, BMI, DEXA screenings provided by the Bayhealth Education Department. Food and snacks will be provided plus Families are welcome and Free Clothing Giveaways will be offered. Hope you can join us!

For more information visit our webpage, here.

 

Total Woman’s Conference: Empowering the Wise and Well Woman

Saturday, April 9, 2016

10:00 am to 1:00 pm

Milford Library, 11 SE Front Street, Milford, DE

Join the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition and Women of Wellness, LLC for the Total Woman’s Conference: Empowering the Wise and Well Woman on Saturday, April 9 from 10am to 1pm at the Milford Library. You can expect informative workshops, free screenings, and lunch. Admission is free but  registration is required. Visit tinyurl.com/wiseandwell to register.

For more information visit our webpage, here.

 

VIDA Living a Healthy Lifestyle Bilingual Health and Screening Fair

Saturday, April 23, 2016

8:30 am to 1:30 pm

Western Sussex Boys and Girls Club, 310 Virginia Avenue, Seaford, DE 19973

Join us for a day of breast health education, free screenings, and information on how to live a healthy lifestyle on Saturday, April 23, 2016 from 8:30am to 1:30pm at the Western Sussex Boys and Girls Club in Seaford. The day will include: Clinical Breast Exams provided on site, Health screening and insurance information from many vendors, and Glucose, Cholesterol, BMI, DEXA screenings provided by the Beebe Community Health. Food and snacks will be provided plus Families are welcome and Free Clothing Giveaways will be offered. Hope you can join us!

For more information visit our webpage, here.

Forgiveness and Health

Provided by Drew Angus, DMin
Director of Spiritual Outreach, Cancer Treatment Centers of America

 

Maryanne’s aging parents are still independent but they need more support than ever. Her Dad has a complicated health history including diabetes and a recent recurrence of cancer. Maryanne has three siblings who all live within an hour drive to their parents, however, Maryanne is the child who seems to always take her parents to the doctor and is in daily contact with them. Maryanne’s husband maintains her parent’s lawn and frequently does their home maintenance. Maryanne cooks three meals a week for her folks and stops by to check on them almost every day, all while managing her own household and working full time. In addition, Maryanne has recently gained added responsibilities with her daughter’s upcoming high school graduation. Recently, she asked her siblings if they could take over some of the duties of supporting their parents during the coming month. None of her siblings stepped up to the plate and each had excuses that did not seem valid. Once again, Maryanne was stretched thin with responsibilities and work that left her exhausted and angry. “I am disgusted with my siblings. Why do they have to be so selfish? I just need them to pull their weight and help Mom and Dad especially when I have so much on my plate already!”

During the course of any given day many of us get angry at least once. Something or more likely someone becomes a source of anger or frustration. There are a number of reasons why we get angry with people, but let me suggest a few of the m­ost common:

  • Injustice. We all have a sense of right and wrong and of what constitutes fair treatment. We know when wrong has been committed against us or someone we love, when people don’t do what they say they are going to do, when they don’t pull their weight, etc.
  • Hurt. The heart gets wounded. Most of us know what it feels like to be left out; overlooked, undervalued, put-down.
  • Fear. When there is a perceived threat to something that gives us a sense of identity or security.
  • Frustration. Everyone has a God-given need for significance and to leave a positive mark on the world. We want to see our work make a difference. Sometimes, roadblocks to moving toward our goals are people.

Sometimes we have a hard time letting things go.  We have the capacity to stew on offenses and sometimes develop deep pockets of resentment or lack of forgiveness that research shows actually hurts our health over time.

According to Seawell et al. in Pyschology and Health, “As a negative response to interpersonal offense that commonly involves grudge, resentment and revenge, lack of forgiveness has been consistently related to poorer health in published research.”

We know that those who do not forgive show an increase in sympathetic nervous system responses and release more stress hormones over a longer period that will in time affect their health and well-being. In other words, if I don’t forgive someone who has hurt me, the one who will suffer the most is me. So it is important for our friend Maryanne’s own health and well-being to be able to find forgiveness toward her siblings who have let her down.

So if it is so beneficial to forgive, why might Maryanne resist something that is good for her? Harboring an offense can actually feel good! History shows that one of the shadow sides of human nature is self-righteousness. If we are really honest sometimes we really enjoy feeling BETTER than someone else. If Maryanne forgives her siblings, she may sacrifice her sense of being `right’. When we hold onto a grudge it feels like we are in control although, in the long run, we end up being the ones controlled by the very offense that has hurt us to begin with. Another reason Maryanne might resist forgiving her siblings is the false notion that it means that she is letting them off the hook. It is difficult to accept that forgiveness does not perpetuate the hurt and injustices being done.

“Importantly, forgiveness is not condoning, excusing, denying, minimizing, or forgetting the wrong. It can occur without reconciliation, which requires the participation of both parties, if the person who caused the hurt is absent, deceased, or remains unsafe.” (Toussaint et al. Forgive to Live)

“Lack of forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” –Nelson Mandela

“Forgiveness can be defined as a freely made choice to give up revenge, resentment, or harsh judgements toward a person who caused a hurt, and to strive to respond with generosity, compassion, and kindness toward that person. It is a process that involves reducing negative responses and increasing positive responses toward the person who cause the hurt, across the realms of affect, cognition and behavior.” Loren Toussaint et al. (Toussaint et al. Forgive to Live)

Family therapist, Ruthanne Batstone, describes forgiveness as, “a willingness to absorb or pay the emotional debt for the offense and not seek revenge or payment in return. The offended person absorbs the price of emotional pain without seeking revenge.”

So if Maryanne forgives her siblings it is not a denial of the pain of their offense to her, rather it is an acknowledgement of the offense and a willingness to absorb the debt without repayment.

How do we find the power to forgive? “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This beautiful quote is familiar to many and is taken from Jesus prayer from the Sermon on the Mount. One way to forgive is to remember our own humanity and frailty which will help us develop compassion towards others, even those who have hurt us. All of us who are loved well are also known well and that means we are not loved because we are perfect, but rather loved `warts and all’. If we meditate long enough on being loved by God with others even with our imperfections, it will create the space in our hearts to do likewise and to ‘forgive those who have trespassed against us.”

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America®, we see many people who live with cancer and their caregivers who, like Maryanne, carry immense responsibilities. Our desire is to minimize their stress and optimize their health and well-being by offering forgiveness education ­­­as one of many modalities to integrated health and healing.

Scriptural wisdom gives two possible responses to an offense by another. Sometimes you go to the person and talk about the offense, especially if it is needed to keep the relationship free of resentment and for the sake of loving the offender well. Sometimes you overlook the offense if you are able to absorb the debt without resentment and it is a more minor offense. Part of living in any relationship, any community is “patience, bearing with each other in love” (Eph 4:2). So we often need wisdom and discernment to know whether we let an offense go or talk to the person about it. When trying to decide, the guiding principle is LOVE.

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In honor of Black History Month: Meet Gloria Minus

We are coming to the end of Black History Month and have one more breast cancer story to share for the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition’s “Planting the S.E.E.D. to Health and History” campaign. Let us introduce Gloria Minus. After reading her story, please visit our website to download a free Family Health History Tree and learn about your family health history and risk factors that may affect you.

Pictured: Gloria and her daughter, Renee S. Ashe.

In January 2004 at age 55, Gloria was diagnosed with stage 1 ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) breast cancer. In Stage 1 breast cancer, cancer is evident, but it is contained to only the area where the first abnormal cells began to develop. She had to have 2 lumpectomies to clear the margins.

Gloria worked for an ob-gyn practice through Christiana Care at the time of her diagnosis. She was (fortunately) diagnosed so early because she was on the cutting edge of breast cancer detection. Christiana Care had just gotten breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) technology and they were using it to watch something abnormal in Gloria’s left breast. For four years, Gloria had a breast MRI every 6 months for preventative measures.

In December 2003, Gloria went in for her routine MRI. In January, she was told that two areas on her right breast warranted a biopsy. One came back benign and the other came back malignant. She quickly went in for a lumpectomy in February and had to be treated with another one in March. After that, she received 33 radiation treatments and was placed on Tamoxifen. She had a bad reaction to the Tamoxifen (weight gain and trouble sleeping) so her oncologist later placed her on Arimidex. Since 2004, Gloria has been breast cancer free! But Gloria has a daughter who was diagnosed with breast cancer last July so she is now helping her daughter with the struggle she faced over a decade ago.

Gloria met the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition through the Breast Cancer Update held in Dover each April. As a survivor, she became interested in all the latest breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and information. She also became a mentor with the Coalition – becoming a one-on-one support system for a newly diagnosed patient and she enjoys helping others in this regard.

When asked about her message to other women for Black History Month, Gloria’s call to action is clear. “We always seem to take care of everybody else and we end up neglecting our own health.” This year, the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition encourages you to take Gloria’s advice and make your health a priority. Call the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition today at 1-888-672-9647 to schedule your mammogram. If you do not have insurance, if you do not have transportation, if you do not speak English, do not let that stop you. We will do everything we can to get you screened.

In honor of Black History Month: Meet Natasha Simms

African American women are more likely to die of breast cancer than any other race and the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition does not like this statistic!!! This February in honor of Black History Month, the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition is running a special “Planting the S.E.E.D. to Health and History” campaign. Visit our website to download a free Family Health History Tree and learn about your family health history and risk factors that may affect you. As a special part of the campaign, we’d like to introduce you to some local African American Breast Cancer survivors throughout the month to share their stories. Without further ado, meet Natasha Simms. She is a breast cancer survivor and friend of DBCC filled with an inspirational message of hope, courage, wisdom, and survivorship in the excerpt below.

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Natasha Simms was 31 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Natasha began screening for breast cancer at a young age, because her twin sister Lynette (featured last week on the blog) was diagnosed just a short while before her. She had a clean mammogram in August 2012 and in September, Natasha felt a lump. Her sister, Lynette, urged her to visit the doctor.

Natasha’s doctor did a biopsy and it came back as breast cancer. She also found out she was BRCA1 positive. She had 3 small tumors and the doctor recommended a mastectomy as the first step. The surgery was scheduled for December. Within that time the tumor had grown 10 times its size and spread to her lymph nodes. So the date of her surgery, Natasha was told she needed emergency chemotherapy. After the second chemotherapy treatment her tumor shrunk back down to its original size and after three more treatments she did the surgery. It was a grueling 8 hours – a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction and 17 lymph nodes removed. Recovery was tough. Besides her eyebrows, she lost all her hair and her palms and fingers were black. She had four more rounds of chemotherapy and had some blood transfusions in between. 28 rounds of radiation later, Natasha was declared cancer free.

Because she was young, Natasha was told her cancer was more aggressive. That is why her tumors grew so quickly. But she was also told the treatment worked very well because she was her body was strong to fight back.

Natasha says watching her sister go through cancer made her stronger on her journey. She wasn’t scared of dying because she saw her sister survive and thrive. She says her biggest concerns were shallow thoughts like, “I’m young, I don’t have any breasts, I don’t have any hair, I don’t have a husband”, and wondering why it happened to her. But after her cancer, Natasha says the beauty inside her came out. She didn’t fall back on her physical looks. She appreciated the parts of her body that were functioning and supporting her, like her legs for helping her walk, and her eyes for helping her see.

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On the day of her diagnosis, Natasha recalls a rainbow in the sky. Her sister Lynette told her that was God’s promise that she wasn’t going to die from the cancer. Natasha gained strength and encouragement like this from her sister throughout her journey. She also found comfort in being able to call someone like Lois at the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition and talk about what she was going through and all the challenges in her life.

Natasha (and Lynette) are the only ones from a family of 12 to have breast cancer. But Natasha says she had a grandmother that died of ovarian cancer and an uncle who died of prostate cancer. So she has urged her cousins to get their genetic testing. Natasha has 4 children and once they are 18 they will go through genetic testing. Her family and her children are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer due to their family history.

There are still after effects of the cancer that Natasha faces all the time but overall, she feels fortunate that her health is fine. After speaking to her doctor she had a complete hysterectomy to reduce her risk of developing ovarian cancer. And because the genetic make up of her cancer she cannot take any estrogen hormone replacements. So she is reading, learning techniques and managing the best she can. She has started to meditate, write books, and hosts a radio and online web show to talk about issues.

For someone who might be newly diagnosed and reading Natasha’s story, she has some words of wisdom, “Life is not over when you are diagnosed with breast cancer. This is just a test to show how strong you really are. Pull your strength from this. Be positive. Keep a smile.”

For any African American women reading this during black history month, Natasha has a special message. In general, we don’t like to go to the doctors. Doctors always have bad news. But you need to be familiar with how your body feels and if anything doesn’t feel right – go to the doctor. And most importantly, listen to the doctor. It might just save your life.”

 

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In honor of Black History Month: Meet Lynette Shannon

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African American women are more likely to die of breast cancer than any other race and the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition does not like this statistic!!! This February in honor of Black History Month, the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition is running a special “Planting the S.E.E.D. to Health and History” campaign. Visit our website to download a free Family Health History Tree and learn about your family health history and risk factors that may affect you. As a special part of the campaign, we’d like to introduce you to some local African American Breast Cancer survivors throughout the month to share their stories. Without further ado, meet Lynette Shannon. She is a breast cancer survivor and friend of DBCC filled with an inspirational message of hope, courage, wisdom, and survivorship in the Q&A below.

Question: Tell me a little bit about your breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. What was the most difficult for you?

Answer: Well at the age 27 my son had just turned 2 and I had just celebrated my 2 yr wedding anniversary. I could remember one day feeling a lump in my under arm and then feeling pain in my right breast. I visited my family doctor who then told me he would have to send me for a mammogram the same day. I was then scheduled for a specialist the same day. Next came the biopsy. I remember sitting in the doctors office with my husband being told I had breast cancer. It was a huge shock. I had a tumor about 4 cm in dimension. I also had 16 affected lymph nodes in my under arm.  

The most difficult part….. Everything! Not being able to care for my son, loss in appetite, restlessness, having to convince people that I was going to be okay and not die. Not to mention the fact that the very medicine that was supposed to save my life….. I was allergic to it. So before every treatment I had to take a dose of bendryl. I had 6 treatments in total. Broken in half because my tumor shrunk so fast that the doctor needed proof that I actually had a tumor. After the 6 treatments every 2 weeks I had 30 days of radiation. 

Question: How did you get through all the tough issues that come from a diagnosis?

Answer: I honestly got through the tough times with the help of God. For no other reason would I be here today with a testimony of healing.

Question: Did you turn to family for support?

Answer: My husband was my biggest supporter along with my family, church family, friends and co workers.

Question: Did the DBCC help you? Or did you have an outside support system like a church or sorority or friends or coworkers who you counted on?

Answer: The DBCC helped me out a lot. They were always ready to have someone talked to me if I had any questions or just needed someone to talk to. Everyone was always there to cheer me on and encourage me every step of the way. 

Question: Did breast cancer run in your family? I know your sister is also a survivor. Did you guys speak about your risk factors before being diagnosed – or do you do so now – especially for the future generations?

Answer: My breast cancer was genetic. I thank God for my plastic surgeon who suggested that I get genetics testing before getting reconstruction. It is at that point I found out it was genetic. At that point I only knew that my grandmother died of ovarian cancer. I was then able to get my second breast removed and help reduce the chance of it coming back.  From that I was able to tell my sister and all relatives that it was genetic. I begged my sister to get testing, unfortunately  that didn’t happen and before long she was diagnosed. 

Question: What advice would you give to a black woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer? Is there anything you wish you knew before that might have helped you along your journey?

Answer: The advice that I would give is don’t give up! Your story does not end with a diagnosis. Have Faith. A doctor once told me that it is really mind over matter. Don’t allow your mind and the things people may say dictate how you heal and survive. You can make it. Go get genetics testing, find out if it runs in your family, there is preventative work that can be done.  The one thing I wish I knew, was to get genetics testing before I had my surgeries.

Question: How are you today?

Answer: I feel amazing and grateful that God would heal me and continue to add years to my life. I’m also grateful for my support group that still encourages me and celebrates my life.  I have so many reminders of what I went through physically that keeps me humble and helps me to remember that I need to share my story and information with others.

 

 

 

It’s Complicated: Our Relationship with Food

By Renee Pieroth, RD, CSO, LDN and Lauren Clanet, RD, LDN

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As Valentine’s Day approaches, how is your relationship with food?

Overeating

Try mindful eating. When eating slowly, we give our bodies time to recognize when we are full.  Try resting your fork/spoon on your plate between each bite or holding your utensil with your opposite hand.  These simple yet effective tips force us to focus on the meal itself, not the amount of food being consumed.

Busy Schedule

Consider planning and preparing a week’s worth of meals on one day.  By preparing your meals in advance, you save yourself additional time at the end of each workday. There is no need to stop at a fast food restaurant on the way home from work because you know your homemade, nutritious meal is already waiting for you at home.

Skipping Meals

Carry balanced, healthy snacks with you to overcome missing a meal. We tend to overeat later in the day if we skip a meal, which can also slow down our metabolism and lead to weight gain. Consider snacking on mixed nuts, an apple with peanut butter or a granola bar.

Fad Diets

Do what is best for you. Following an [organic/gluten-free/lactose-free/low-fat/insert-other-diet-name-here] is not appropriate for everyone. If you’re considering a change, contact your personal doctor or dietitian to discuss if a diet is necessary and which one may be best for you and your needs.

 

In general, try thinking about food in terms of nutritional benefits. Food is life, so choose food that soothes your mind, body and soul. Focus on moderation and balance, as opposed to what you “shouldn’t eat.”

Love your body.  Love yourself.  Love your relationship with food.

Personalized Medicine… The future is here for Judy!

We have all heard that personalized medicine is the future of cancer treatment. Fortunately for some, the future is here now! At the National Breast Cancer Coalition Project LEAD conference last summer, a staff member from the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition met Judy Anderson, a stage 4 breast cancer survivor from Florida. Judy’s incredible story of breast cancer diagnosis, recurrence, treatment, and her experience in a clinical trial is told below. We are amazed that the future of breast cancer treatment is here and Judy has experienced it! We wish her a cancer-free future filled with much happiness!

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Pictured: Judy at the National Breast Cancer Coalition Project Lead conference in San Diego last July 2015.

While President Obama and Vice President Biden are beginning work on a new initiative in the fight against cancer, a Port St. Lucie woman has just returned from the front lines in the battle to cure cancer with some hopeful newsJudy Perkins Anderson has had Stage 4 breast cancer since August, 2013.  She was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and had a mastectomy.  Since she became metastatic, in the last 2-1/2 years, she has been through numerous treatments including several different hormonal therapies, chemotherapies and targeted therapies.  Last summer, with treatment options running out, she found out about a clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD.  The trial, “Immunotherapy Using Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes for Patients with Metastatic Cancer”, builds on existing immunotherapy that has already shown success with melanoma patients.  This trial expands the patient population to include people with other cancers with solid metastatic tumors.

The theory behind this treatment is that part of our immune system is still trying to fight the cancer.  However, most of our immune system no longer recognizes the cancer as an enemy and is no longer trying to attack it.  Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) are white blood cells (WBCs) that have penetrated the tumor and are trying to fight the cancer.  They are a small minority of the WBCs in our bodies and do not have sufficient numbers to effectively fight the cancer.

In Mrs. Anderson’s case, she had a tumor removed in August, 2015 to potentially develop her treatment.  Her tumor was cut into 24 pieces and the TIL were watched to see if any of them would attack the cancer.  In four of the 24 pieces, activity was seen.  Subsequently, the active TIL from these four tumor pieces were grown up into an army of about 80 billion T-cells focused only on killing her cancer.  This “selective TIL treatment” was ready for Mrs. Anderson just before Christmas in December, 2015.

Prior to receiving her “TIL army” as Mrs. Anderson calls it, she was given high dose chemotherapy that killed all the other WBCs in her system.  This way, when the selective TIL treatment was infused, the only target was the cancer cells.  With time, her bone marrow will regenerate the other WBCs which are an integral part of our normal immunity that fights infections and disease.

Mrs. Anderson returned home on New Year’s Day 2016 and has been recovering from the TIL treatment which can be, in her words, “a grueling affair”.  Amazingly, she reports that more than half a dozen tumors that she could feel in her chest have “melted away”.  She has stopped all pain medications that she had been taking to control the pain from the cancer.  Her doctors at NIH are already very optimistic saying that such a rapid response is unusual.  Mrs. Anderson will get scans in early February that will confirm what she already knows, that she is heading for a remission.  How long it will last, remains to be seen.  But, for other patients that have responded, sometimes the remissions have lasted a long time.  Until there is evidence to the contrary, Mrs. Anderson is resuming life without cancer and beginning once again to plan for the future.

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Pictured: the Olive study group at Project Lead in July 2015. Judy is on the right, standing next to DBCC staff member, Beth Krallis.

What do you think after reading about Judy’s experience? What questions do you have about TIL treatment and cancer fighting of the future? What do you wish you knew earlier or want to know now about clinical trials?

If you would like to find out more about participating in a clinic trial or becoming involved with the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition’s Clinical Trials Mentoring Initiative, please contact Beth. Researchers and the medical community recognize the need for trained advocates and their support role to the clinical trials process. Without participants, research outcomes are limited.

If you want to learn more about the science of breast cancer and Project LEAD, please visit the National Breast Cancer Coalition website.