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Wed., Oct. 16, 2013, 9:26 p.m.

Pink October

Sunrise, Boise, Idaho, 10/28/11 (Betsy Russell)
Sunrise, Boise, Idaho, 10/28/11 (Betsy Russell)

The pink ribbons are everywhere: on yogurt containers as well as pro football players' armbands. The message: breast cancer awareness month is here. Pay attention.

My story:  a routine mammogram (get one, please!) detected my stage zero (wildly aggressive cells, no tumor), breast cancer nine years ago. My care was the best because, as a healthcare worker, I knew thee person to go to for immediate treatment.  And I knew where to find support when I needed it most – usually in the dark of night as my family slept. I logged on and found information and comfort on various websites. Pink October feels like an appropriate time to share these life-saving, supportive resources.

FORCE:  (facing our risk of cancer empowered)

FORCE is the only national nonprofit organization devoted to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Our mission includes support, education, advocacy, awareness, and research specific to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Our programs serve anyone with a BRCA mutation or a family history of cancer.”  

While I did not have the genetic predisposition for breast cancer or ovarian cancer,  I found the information on this site extremely helpful. On the message boards I posted my detailed and intimate questions about breast cancer treatment and life after treatment. The women who wrote were profoundly generous - sharing their experiences and offering kindness. Two women sent me gifts and encouraging words. I will never meet them, but I will love them forever. They gave me hope.

A breast cancer site  addresses almost every conceivable topic. Spanish translation is available. Moderators organize the discussion board conversations by topic: stages and types of diagnosis and treatment, day-to-day concerns and recovery, renewal and hope. I posted a question and comments at three in the morning – minutes later a woman in Australia answered. The women who posted comments directed me to my next step: restoring my body with a medical dream team in New Orleans -  my NOLA saints!  Women come from around the world to receive care and healing from these compassionate and skilled physicians.

A breast cancer diagnosis is every woman’s nightmare.  Until medical research arrives at a cure, we will fight to survive this deadly disease. We will continue to tell our stories.   We will fight with courage, knowledge and companionship; we will carry each other through the darkness and celebrate each other’s recovery and renewal until one day - the nightmare is no more.  

(S-R archive photo: Sunrise, Boise, Idaho)

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