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Posts Tagged ‘Recommended reading’

According to this article in today’s Times, the grant system used to fund cancer research leads to a lot of relatively trivial studies getting funding while more ambitious projects languish, since they are less likely to succeed. Apparently the guy who discovered how to use herceptin to treat HER2 positive breast cancer patients (like me) couldn’t get funding and was eventually given money by Revlon of all people. This is staggering to me because herceptin is an amazing thing – HER2 positive patients used to have among the worst prognoses of breast cancer patients, and now they have among the best. After 3 treatments, herceptin has noticably shrunk my tumor – I can barely feel it now, and it used to feel like a golf ball.

I’m always a little skeptical of things like Walk-a-thons and the stupid baby-pink sugar cookies, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, and who knows what that I see everywhere I go. But maybe that’s actually a helpful way of getting funds to actually help find a cure. (But please, don’t ever buy me any of that stuff; I will hate that color for the rest of my life.)

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I really dig Twisty Faster’s irreverent style, and as breast cancer survivors go I could do worse in terms of role models. For example, I am dismayed by this post, but she knows the drill and she’s saying it straight.

Also in the Sass category (my favorite!) we have 10 Things Not to Say When Someone Tells You She Has Breast Cancer.

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The other day, a woman at Roswell’s education and outreach center loaned me a book called Show Me: A Photo Collection of Breast Cancer Survivors’ Lumpectomies, Mastectomies, Breast Reconstructions and Thoughts on Body Image. It took me a little while to work up the courage to peek inside, but when I did, I found it wasn’t that scary. The women in the book stood there, most with huge smiles, and revealed their scars. All were different. None looked anything like me. But they had all gone through some version of what I am going through, and come out the other side.

If I decide to get the mastectomy, I know exactly which woman I would use as my model. She had a double mastectomy, and she was the first one I turned to when I first opened the book. She looks like a teenage boy with two big scars. That’s not scary at all. I could easily live with that.

One woman in the book was only 21 when she was diagnosed, and she sticks in my mind for obvious reasons. Her cancer came back, then it was in her brain, and then she died. I think about this woman a lot.

My mom says that I have to take the book back. Put it out of your mind, she says. Let it go. I guess my parents and J don’t see the book the way I do. My mom seems to think it has bad vibes. But I see these women as sisters in arms, and having the book comforts me. I don’t personally know anybody who survived breast cancer. But somehow the Show Me book makes it okay.

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