What Blindness Cannot Do.

We’ve all seen this touching poem written by an unknown cancer patient.


It cannot cripple love, it cannot shatter hope

It cannot corrode faith, it cannot eat away peace

It cannot destroy confidence, it cannot kill friendship

It cannot shut out the memories, it cannot silence courage

It cannot invade the soul, it cannot reduce eternal life.

It cannot quench the Spirit.

All this is true, and more.  I am living proof.  But it’s not just true about cancer.  It is true about any situation in our lives.  I know I have passed my positive attitude on to Danny.  I hope he keeps it throughout his life.  I offer this regarding blindness:


It cannot silence sound.  It cannot stop creativity.

It cannot dim vision.  It cannot eliminate motion.

It cannot reduce self-respect.  It cannot erase intelligence.

It cannot still hands.  It cannot destroy heart.

It cannot limit dreams.

 Here is my internal inspiration!

Danny playing at Big Sur Creek

And here is the inspiration found in my inbox this morning.  A blind photographer.  Can you imagine?  No?  Well thankfully Pete Eckert could…

Amazing, right?  I wish no less for Danny in his lifetime.


Titleless in the Blogosphere

So, you may have heard that the Chilean Earthquake rocked the world.  Literally.  Andreas Reitbrock, a professor of Earth Sciences at the U.K.’s Liverpool University, says that Santa Maria Island near Concepcion, Chile may have been raised as much as six feet by the 8.8 quake!   Yowza!!!!  And that’s not all!  According to NASA, the quake may have permanently altered the Earth’s axis resulting in a loss of  1.26 microseconds each day. More lost sleep for us poor parents.  We just can’t catch a break.  sigh

I had the best laugh I’ve had in weeks while reading up about the quake-induced time crunch.  There are some very witty people out there in Webland and they are all commenting on news articles.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Octothorp says:  
“And the planet’s axis may have moved three inches.
Insert nightclubby short penis and/or erectile dysfunction joke [here].”        

Fadviral brings it home with:
“Great. My phone’s GPS already reckoned I was half a mile away from wherever I was actually located. Now it’s half a mile plus three inches. :/”

Tipsy Hausfrau endears herself to me forever with:
 “See? I totally don’t have time to go to the gym now. Can’t argue with science.”  

HowardRoarkLaughed only made me smirk with his:
“Same thing happened the last time Kirstie Alley fell out of bed.”

Claire Buoyant gets extra points for the political tie in:
So where does this put the Axis of Evil now?”

Damn it! Just when the days were starting to get longer too!”      (Seriously!)

Also, TurdBlossum?  Really?

I love being right!!!

Pardon me while I gloat…  I do so love to be right. 

I’ve been telling all my Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) friends and myself that the current survival statistics don’t apply to us (those diagnosed since 2001).  Why?  Well because back in the day the doctors used to treat IBC just like every other breast cancer out there instead of the nasty variety it really is.  Typical treatment used to be diagnosis, mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.  All of this followed relatively quickly by recurrence.  Lovely. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, women diagnosed with IBC between 1998-2001had a 5-year relative survival rate of 40% (it used to be 25%!) compared to roughly 87% for other breast cancers.  But that was before neoadjuvant chemotherapy.  Neoadjuvant is chemo given before surgery.  This type of treatment makes all the difference in the world to an IBC patient! 

Inflammatory breast cancer’s symptoms, which are listed below, cause the breast to grow really large, really quickly.  In my own experience my affected breast grew to near double the size of the other (which was no small size to begin with) within about 2 months time.  Also, it’s quite the non-specific cancer cell – more of a general inflammation not an actual tumor.  All this makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to get clean borders during a mastectomy.  So the nasty little cells would come back to visit quickly and were not please about being uncerimoniously evicted in the first place.

Here are general symptoms of IBC:

  • A breast that appears discolored (red, purple, pink or bruised);
  • A tender, firm and enlarged breast (sometimes overnight);
  • A warm feeling in the breast (or may feel hot/warm to the touch);
  • Persistent itching of the breast (not relieved with cream or salve);
  • Shooting or stabbing pain;
  • Ridged or dimpled skin texture, similar to an orange peel;
  • Thickened areas of breast tissue;
  • Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm, above/below the collarbone;
  • Flattening or retraction of the nipple;
  • Swollen or crusted skin on the nipple;
  • Change in color of the skin around the nipple (areola)

If you want a great visual go to Lemonland.

Good thing for us IBC patients that neoadjuvant treatment is the new and improved way of doing business because it has increased our 5 year survival rate.  This is where me being right comes in.  According to the Mayo Clinic neoadjuvant therapy combined with surgery, radiation and more chemotherapy has increased IBC survival to 50% at the five year mark.  Best of all, nearly 1/3 are alive 20 years after diagnosis!!!
Plus, general breast cancer mortality has dropped 2% a year since 1990

We are making strides, folks!!!  Large strides! 

I intend to be here twenty years from now, beating the internet-at-large about the head and neck until each and every one out there knows about Inflammatory Breast Cancer and why it’s so insidious.  Or… until it’s completely wiped out, which ever comes first!

Cross-posted to Mothers with Cancer

Benefit or Burden

I love October.  Suddenly the bright spotlight of the media is shown on stories that normally don’t rate for their lack of warm fuzziness.

Take the Welsh’s from Ohio, for instance…  Both wife and husband are in their 60s and are undergoing Breast Cancer treatment.  Both. Of. Them. 

This is a subject near and dear to my heart as my boys have a significantly increased risk of developing breast cancer because I and my mother both carry the BRCA2 genetic mutation.  By significantly, I mean about 80 times that of other men!!!  This equates to about a 1 in 14 lifetime chance of breast cancer.  BRCA2 also increases the risk of other cancers: prostate, pancreatic and stomach cancers as well as melanoma.  Did they hit the genetic jackpot or what!? The BRCA2 gene DOUBLES a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer and melanoma!  My boys have a 1 in 3 chance of prostate cancer before they turn 65!  All of these cancers will rear their ugly heads earlier than typical in a BRCA2 man.

I have long been an advocate of Knowledge Is Power!  It’s only when we hide medical histories and facts in the dark because of embarrassment or fear that these awful diseases get the upper hand.  That being said, knowing my boys could be victims of genetic Russian Roulette, I have a decision to make.  Should I get them genetically tested?

My quandary is this:  genetic testing would arm all of us with the power of knowledge.  We could gird our sons against cancer with more frequent screenings at much younger ages.  Even enroll them in test programs aimed at prevention.  However, by equipping ourselves with this information we also make the results available to insurance companies.  If I test the boys as children in order to afford them the best possible chance at survival, do I label them with a giant red flag that will prevent them from ever getting health insurance?  Will it cause them employment issues in the future?

It’s such a tight rope to walk; future benefit or burden?  What would you do?

Cross posted to Mothers With Cancer

Research You Can Sink Your Teeth Into…

As I embarked on my daily lunch-time web surf session, I stumbled upon this yummy article from Britain. Anyone want to voluteer to eat chocolate for a year for the betterment of society? Me!!!!! Me!!!!

How come our Government doesn’t do this kind of research?