You Walked With Me in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

I’m interrupting my series on recurrence, because today was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Toledo, Ohio, the metro area where I reside.  Over 17,000 participants were there.

I began to cry even before I got to the race.  Amy, my nephew’s fiancee asked me why I become so emotional…she was curious what part of the event makes me cry.   I explained to Amy that the biggest reason I cry is that I am alive, and two years ago I didn’t think I would be here today.   But mostly I cry for ALL OF YOU, my blog readers!!   I know your stories  —  the breasts you have lost, the children that you pray you will see grow up, the relationships that have supported you through it all, the relationships you have lost, and what you had to suffer through surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation.  And the biggest of all, the fear you now have to live with on a daily basis that IT will come back.

Your stories are embedded on my heart.  All of you walked with me today. Standing with those over 500 survivors as we posed for the televised group picture from those newly diagnosed up to a 49 year survivor, tears once again poured down my face and the faces of many other women near me.   The woman on my right was a Stage IV breast cancer patient,  first diagnosed in 2002 at age 37 and now on yet another chemo drug.  Her vibrancy and hope gave me more courage.  The woman in front of me was a 23 year survivor.  I asked her if she ever forgets.  She said, “No, I see it in the mirror every day.”  The woman on my left was a Stage 3 Triple Negative Survivor who was also a nurse.  She said if it were not for Komen, she would not be alive today because of all the research dollars for Triple Negative Cancer funded by Komen.

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Over one BILLION dollars for research has been raised by Komen since its inception in 1982.  In 2012 alone, the University of Michigan Breast Care Center where I receive treatment received over $4 million dollars for research money from Komen.   My Oncologist has been a Scientific Advisor and a Komen Scholar for National Komen.  Since 2010, he has received $250,000 each year from Komen for research.  He explained to me where he directs those research dollars at University of Michigan.  He sings Komen’s praises and tells me about the tenacity of Nancy Brinker, the founder, as he has worked with her.   Komen helped save my life, and I am very grateful.

Sometimes I hear complaints that some of you feel exploited because of too many pink ribbons.  My philosophy is I would rather see too many pink ribbons than go back to the 1960s when my beautiful Aunt Rosemary, wife of my father’s brother, had breast cancer when she was a young mom of four in her 30s.

No one talked about it–family members only whispered about breast cancer in hushed tones like she was a leper.   She had no support system and was drastically disfigured by the radical surgery methods then.   There were no drugs.  She had Cobalt treatments – the precursor to radiation as we know it.  She survived against all odds and against what she was told by her doctors, “Get your affairs in order and find a home for your children.”  She and my uncle divorced after breast cancer and she raised those four children alone. No one talked about the why of the divorce.   Now I understand.

Always, I admired her as Aunt Rosemary could be so strong, yet so kind and compassionate to all she met.     Aunt Rosemary had reconstructive surgery 40 years later when she had insurance that would pay for it because, she told me, “…the power of Komen.”  After surgery, she said she finally felt whole after all those years.  Then she found love again at age 70.  She died NOT from breast cancer when she was in her mid-70s about 10 years before my diagnosis.  I cried for Aunt Rosemary today, too, as her spirit walked with us.

Please remember my store, www.hellocourage.com    THANK YOU!

Turkey Tail Mushroom and Breast Cancer

Remember that supplements can affect chemotherapy and radiation negativelydo not take any supplements without consulting your Oncologist whether you are in the midst of active treatment or have completed treatment!  I was warned by my Oncology Team that even juicing vegetables or vitamins can interfere with chemotherapy and radiation.  My Oncologist made me wait to juice or take supplements until I had completed chemotherapy and radiation.

You can absolutely go crazy trying to find just the right supplement to stop cancer or to stop cancer from recurring.   I learned this 14 years ago when my beloved father was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer.  No traditional methods could help him.  All we had were a bunch of alternative methods like coffee enemas and wheat grass.  We tried.  He died.  So I am a bit of a skeptic when it comes to hocus pocus remedies and breast cancer.  I research things to no end before I’ll invest my money into supplements.  My Oncologist prescribed Calcium and Vitamin D3.  I take those and a good multi vitamin.  But I wanted more.  I wanted to feel like I was doing something.

After I ended active treatment for Stage 3 breast cancer, I went to meet with my  very credentialed Oncologist.  I was eager to tell him about the latest miracle supplement I had been researching.  Before I could get it out of my mouth, he gave me the snake oil lecture, and don’t waste your money, etc.

But I then started hitting him with the facts I had uncovered about Turkey Tail Mushroom.  He listened to me as I told him Turkey Tail is proven that it increases NK cells (natural killer cells).  I told him about the study the National Institute of Health and Bastyr University just completed about Turkey Tail and Breast Cancer.  And the new over $5 million study that had just been approved by the FDA in 2012 for more Breast Cancer research.   http://www.bastyr.edu/news/general-news/2012/11/fda-approves-bastyr-turkey-tail-trial-cancer-patients

He got on the computer right then.  He started reading, and reading and reading.  He then told me he would have one of his researchers look into it.   At my next office visit he did not give me a stand up and applaud endorsement, but he did say, “Go ahead and take the Turkey Tail.”  That was good enough for me!!

I take Turkey Tail Mushroom capsules – the Host Defense brand.  The founder of the Host Defense is, Paul Stamets, a world-renowned mycologist who supplied the mushroom supplements to Bastyr University for the various breast cancer studies involving Turkey Tail.    Please listen to Paul Stamets’ personal story about his mom and her Stage IV Breast Cancer diagnosis and how the breast cancer study found how Turkey Tail works.  The irony of it all will bring you chills.  It is a 3.5 minute video and PLEASE WATCH!!  He can tell you about Turkey Tail like I cannot!

Paul Stamets talks about how Turkey Tail is shown to increase the Natural Killer cells in our body.  Since I’m not a scientist or doctor, I wanted to know more about NK Cells.   I found this great video – kind of like Natural Killer Cells for Dummies.  I found it fascinating as it shows how the NK cells are the first line of defense against cancer and metastases.

Please do your own research on Turkey Tail – there is plenty of it out there in cyberland.  But PLEASE don’t go in the woods and look for them.  The wrong mushroom can kill you!!   I take Turkey Tail supplements every day.  The bottle says take 2 capsules daily with or without food – I take 4 per day.  The cost is about $45 to $49 for 120 capsules. I absolutely believe it has revved up my immune system which is what it is supposed to do.