So here’s the State of the Union as far as that whole cancer thing goes.
The background: In February of 2010, my mother found a lump and went to her doctor about it. Since approximately 95% of lumps are nothing, they weren’t very concerned. Well, crap – it’s cancer. Well, okay. 95% of breast cancers have a 10 year survival rate. Nope, instead Mom has Triple Negative breast cancer, meaning that unlike most breast cancers, it has no hormone receptors and the usual treatment doesn’t work. Triple negative breast cancer has a 55% 10 year survival rate, or 75% with chemo & radiation. Only ~20% of breast cancers are triple negative, and mostly affect younger Hispanic & Black women. Mom, being 50+ and white, managed to really hit the probability jackpot. Woo-freaking-hoo.
So, after being diagnosed in May 2010, Mom had a mastectomy within a month, and then started on chemo in the summer. Her last round of chemo was in October of 2010, just before Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving, she found herself very ill and unable to eat, and later took a trip to the ER. Unfortunately, they wrote off her symptoms as a side effect of the chemo, and sent her home despite her soaring blood pressure. A trip to her regular doctor the next day was also useless. Finally, a full four days after her original symptoms, she was finally admitted to the ER and it was discovered she had a serious intestinal blockage. While we’re still not sure exactly what caused it, it only makes sense that it would be a side effect of the chemo.
Mom spent almost a month in the hospital in October, most of those unable to eat anything. (Incidentally, be careful what you wish for: Mom had mused that it would be nice to lose some weight. Being stuck in the hospital with a tube up your nose is not a recommended weight loss method.) After over a week of attempting to remove the blockage manually, they decided to do some exploratory surgery and ended up having to remove roughly six feet of necrotic bowel. While the human body comes out of the box with about 25 feet, one does not prefer to lose these things. Turns out your body is SUPPOSED to have all that extra bowel. Try to hang onto yours, hey?
Then, to add to all of this, Mom still had 6 weeks of radiation to look forward to. It seems that the margins weren’t QUITE large enough from the mastectomy she’d had in June, and so they wanted to blast her with some radiation just to make sure it was all gone. So, for those playing at home, this has so far meant:
Surgery -> Chemo -> Hospital -> More Surgery -> Radiation -> Long Recovery.
Fuck cancer? Fuck cancer doesn’t even BEGIN to explain how I feel.
But yes, fuck cancer regardless.
Anyway. Mom’s doing pretty well. Her digestive system is starting to get back to normal. She’s starting to get her energy back, but still tires out pretty easily. But she’s getting better.
Here’s why research is vitally important: Ten years ago, this type of cancer was virtually unknown. Mom would have been treated in the usual manner that does absolutely nothing for her type of cancer, and her survival chances would have been tenuous at best. Thanks to ongoing research, she’s doing great. As you can imagine, this is so very, very important to me – and to all women. And to anyone who has ever met a woman.
Fundraising: I’ve been slacking a bit, with this whole new job (which isn’t all that new anymore) and new home (which is only slightly less new) and new boyfriend (okay, he’s still pretty new) but even then, I’m up to $1200, plus another $100 in cash donations I haven’t submitted yet. Hooray! But, time to get off my ass and get this show on the road. I’m going to be doing some crafty fundraiser type things, so stay tuned for that. At the moment, I still have Breast Cancer soaps (pink soaps with pink ribbons embossed in them) available for $5/bar, 100% of the proceeds going toward my fundraising. Currently, I have one type – enriched with Moroccan clay and scented with Oatmeal, Milk & Honey fragrance, and smells super yummy. I have a new batch of Breast Cancer soaps in mind, but haven’t settled on a scent yet… possibly Earl Grey (bergamot & vanilla). I like tea. So does Mom. It seems appropriate.
I’m also planning on making up some bath salt mixes. These will be a collection of salts & herbs & essential oils that will make your bath oh so yummy. Let me know if you have any requests. They also make nice gifts. Stay tuned.
Note that any purchase over $10 will come with a tax writeoff receipt. Score.
Haven’t donated? Donated already, and want a tax receipt for 2011 too? You can do so here.
Want to buy some Breast Cancer soap? If you’re local, leave a comment and we can arrange a meetup. Not local? You can send a Paypal payment to email@example.com in $5 increments, plus $5 for shipping. (For more than 4 bars, contact me ahead of time, the shipping costs go up a bit.) As mentioned, right now I just have the Oatmeal, Milk & Honey scented soaps, but will soon have a few more varieties available. All soaps will be pink! (Colored naturally with mica or oxides or clays.)
So, now? Thanks to surgery, chemo, & radiation, Mom currently has no evidence of this dreaded disease but is still recovering from the harsh treatments required to conquer this virulent type of breast cancer. While the odds of this type of cancer returning are greater than other types of breast cancer, with the right money, research can perhaps offer more hope to my mom and other women diagnosed with breast cancer in whatever form it takes. My mother considers herself very lucky to be living in the lower mainland where the BC Cancer Agency is consistently making great strides breast cancer treatment.
It’s good stuff. Before fundraisers like The Weekend came about, breast cancer research in BC got a measly $200,000. Since The Weekend started in 2004, they’ve raised over $16 million from this one event alone. That? That’s amazing. Please help out.