Thursday, November 17, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

FORCE Fridays: Help is Here! Find Your Local Support Group

Here is a link to help find a support group near you:

I never put much faith in support groups. When my father died I was totally grief-stricken. My mother was even worse off. We were both counseled by friends and family to go to a support group and be among people who are experiencing the same thing. To put it mildly, they, well, they sucked! The Widow and Widowers group my mom attended was filled with women either looking for another partner or just stuck in grief mode and with men coming for the free food and maybe another caregiver. In my mother's own words at the time she said, "I am not looking for more dirty socks and sex. I want to move on with my life." As for me, I found the meetings with the family grief group at the hospital depressing and most were there to relive the life of their dearly departed. Don't get me wrong, I was sad, depressed and wanted to keep my dad's memory alive. But this was too suffocating.

So, when I found out I carried the BRCA2 genetic mutation, I was looking for some answers to my questions in my head. But I had a bad taste for the support groups. I thought I would try the Internet in 2006 when I was debating whether or not to move from heavy surveillance to prophylactic surgeries. I was already on Tamoxifen, a drug used to help ward off the cancer cells. I found loads of sites for breast cancer but since I had not yet been diagnosed, I felt like the proverbial square peg in the round hole. 

Then  one day, I was quietly surfing again, and I stumbled upon FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered. I was actually looking for more information on prophylactic mastectomies and this website popped up. It was on the 3rd or 4th page which I normally don't venture to. But oh, my relief when I opened the page! There were my people! They got it! They knew what I was going through! There were message boards, live chat rooms and so much information to read. And one thing I did not expect, a local support group in Philadelphia. 

I was not in a rush to get involved with a face-to-face group after my experiences previously. But after making the decision to have surgery and the subsequent infections, cancer and multiple surgeries, I thought I would give it a try. There were 13 women plus the two Outreach Coordinators. This was very different. This group of women were all ages and backgrounds. Some survivors and mostly previvors. We talked, laughed, cried, talked some more. Found out the new trends, new information, news about FORCE itself. Then we had Show and Tell. We went into the kitchen and got to show our surgeries and tell about them. The rest of the group were encouraged to ask questions. Answers were given and more. Nobody felt alone anymore. We had sisters in the flesh, literally!

That was 2007. The Outreach Coordinators number 4 in our local group. At last count, there were over 200 women who receive emails and that we reach out to. The group has lists of doctors, hospitals and genetics counselors to interview and check out. We have one-on-one support before, during and after surgeries if the person wants it. There is a special part of the group that helps those younger women not ready for anything more than just close surveillance. The Outreach groups themselves have grown from 10 to over 60 and more are being developed as I write. There are even International groups now in Australia, Canada, England and New Zealand. I know that our Vice-President of Volunteers, Sandy Cohen, is trying to get more Outreach groups going all the time. 

If there is not a group available near you. please got to the URL I provided at the beginning of this post and check again. If they are too far away, here is an URL to go to so you can fill out the Future Network Sign Up Form:

As always, FORCE family is here to help, support and provide love and information to get you through your journey as smoothly as possible. 

Love and hugs,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pinkwashing is Year Round

Susan G. Komen for the Cure makes mockery of self with KFC pinkwashing campaign (opinion):

'via Blog this'

The above referenced article really points out the dichotomy of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. On one hand they want to get people to donate money to their Fund. On the other hand, they have almost any company endorse as long as they are willing to add pink to their printing press. Yes, it is as simple as all that. PINK, Pink, Pink. It is virtually all year round now, not just in October.

Also, another article I found (, links The Big K with Planned Parenthood. I am not seeing a relationship here. Why are they donating funds to them? I am not going to get into a debate on birth control, womens' rights, pro-life or pro-choice here. My point is that these funds, according to the Big K, are going to pay for mammograms and health checks for women. The basis for the donation deals with the reduced incidence of breast cancer when a pregnancy is carried to term. Turn the statistic around! Can it not be said that abortion is contributing to breast cancer? This is an argument that never should have been entered into by the two organizations.

I also found that in 2010, KFC was selling Buckets for a Cure, resplendent in their pinkness. You need to read the journalist's point of view. I agree with him that it seems that Big K is encouraging the consumer to eat the KFC fried chicken. Now, let us review this! What covers the chicken? White flour, salt and MSG along with the secret seasonings. The first three ingredients are quite harmful. As a matter of fact, MSG is a known carcinogen. Eating this fried food leads to obesity (not that I am one to talk, being seriously overweight) and that is proven to lead to increases risk of breast cancer as well as others. Frying at a high heat produces
acrylamides, toxic chemical by-products of cooking that are believed by manyhealthexperts to promote cancer ( One scientific study, for example, demonstrated thateatingacrylamides boosts kidney cancer rates by 59 percent. Acrylamides are also linked to ovarian cancer. {Thursday, April 22. 2010, Mike Adams}

P. F. Louis writes in this article about where Big K's money goes ( that the former CEO of Big K received $500,000 per year. Nancy Brinker, founder, has stepped in to take over but there are no figures pertaining to her salary. In the 2009/2010 fiscal year, they handed out teh following:

$141 million for education, $47 million for health screening, and $75 million for research. Fundraising costs and affiliate expenses were approximately $60 million with general administrative costs at $37 million.
Do not get excited about these monies. Not once has anyone been educated correctly about nutrition and what foods to avoid to help prevent breast cancer. There are doctors in this country and abroad who are working on drugs to help treat breast cancer but they have not received any funds. What about the thousands and thousands of metastatic patients out there? Any money going to help them? I have seen any reports on that front. Let us not forget the men who have breast cancer. My father died from breast cancer and the males who have a family history are not exempt. Big K does not recognize them to the best of my knowledge. It is only PINK!

Big K has been raising money since before 1982. Why, in all these years, have they not found the ever elusive cure? Of course not. Think of the corporate executives in the pharmaceutical industry, the chemotherapy producers and the radiation technology suppliers. They would be standing in the unemployment line right next to the mets patient who cannot hold a job longer than the respite in between chemo and radiation. 

Off to go fight other windmills kids! Sancho, saddle my horse and give me my lance and helmet. What color shall we use for the ribbons? Certainly not PINK!

Love and hugs,

P.S. Thank you to 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

FORCE Fridays: Advocating for Men: Responding to the USPSTF Recommendations against PSA « Thoughts from FORCE

Advocating for Men: Responding to the USPSTF Recommendations against PSA « Thoughts from FORCE:

In the most recent blog entry from Sue Friedman, Executive Director of FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, she speaks again on behalf of those who carry the BRCA Genetic Mutation.

We know women who carry the BRCA 1 or 2 Genetic Mutation puts them at a higher risk for developing either breast or ovarian cancer. It also puts men at a higher risk for breast cancer. There is also a 33% higher risk for these men to develop prostate cancer. This prostate cancer is more devious in that it builds faster, more aggressive and holds a much greater probability of mortality.

The one blood test that helps predicts prostate cancer is the PSA. The government wants to raise the age for the guidelines at which the PSA should be performed. This cannot be allowed to happen. Although my father passed away from breast cancer, the other men in my family who carry the BRCA2 genetic mutation are in this higher risk group. My son runs a 50% risk of inheriting the genetic mutation from me and may run in that risk category. It is a very scary thought.

PLEASE, click on the above link, read Sue's blog and take ACTION for all of the men in your family who may carry the mutation and those others out there who do. Stand up for their rights to EARLY detection!

Love and hugs,