ME IN MY WIG, THE WEEK AFTER MY LAST CHEMO, APRIL, 2005.
This week I had my annual mammogram. Unlike past years I wasn’t worried, but as we all know… Mammograms can change our world in the time it takes to “Inhale. Hold it. Don’t breath.” I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, and I’m an expert at reading every nuance in the voice and face of a mammogram technician.
This year my mammogram threw me a curveball.
I remember the exact second I learned I had breast cancer. I’d just come out from under anesthesia and was laying on an operating table in the hospital. My husband and a friend were standing next to my doctor who was telling me I had breast cancer. Everyone looked solemn, sad and shellshocked.
It wasn’t the result any of us were expecting.
ANNIE (LEFT) AND LULU, EIGHT WEEKS OLD, THE DAY I BROUGHT THEM HOME.
Like many women who’ve had breast cancer, sometimes I think about why I’m still here. In part it was due to the type and stage of my cancer, my good physical shape and the great medical care I received, but I always come back to my faith in God and my determination to survive. And when I think about the word “survivorship,” and all the courageous people, dealing with their own set of problems, it may sound strange, but also I think of my 16-month-old puppy, Lulu.
At birth, if you’d calculated Lulu’s odds of surviving, they would have been slim to none.
This isn’t your typical Fashion Friday blog so don’t be alarmed… I’m not suggesting you go out and buy an outfit like the one I’m wearing. When I came across this old photo of me and couldn’t stop laughing, I had to share it with you.
Have you ever tried something on, hoping your spouse or girlfriend would validate your purchase?
FACING CALENDAR PAGES. CALENDAR, NAME, CONCEPT AND PHOTOGRAPHS ©BRENDA RAY COFFEE, 2004
Writer and poet, Robert Louis Stevenson, referred to Napa Valley as “bottled poetry.” In 1880, Robert and his bride, Fanny, spent a two-month honeymoon in the Napa Valley area and fell in love with it. They would be heartbroken to learn of the raging inferno that rained destruction on their beloved valley. I, too, am devastated for everyone who loves Napa and who lives there.
My love for Napa Valley has nothing to do with the $100,000 bottle of cabernet the late, Robert Mondavi, opened for me… Although I drank $50,000 worth!
For anyone who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer—or knows someone who has—this week’s news that after 25 years, Olivia Newton-John’s breast cancer has recurred is devastating. There goes the myth that after five years you’re cured, although most of us who’ve had breast cancer know we can never use the word “cure.” The correct term is NED. No evidence of disease.
NED is like living with a landmine in your body, wondering if, and when, something will trigger it.
Philippa Kibugu-Decuir, Founder of Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa. Photographs by Jennifer Denton
Philippa Kibugu-Decuir is singlehandedly changing the face of breast cancer and women’s healthcare in Rwanda. Philippa Kibugu-Decuir is not only educating one woman at a time—one village at a time—but she’s educating the doctors and nurses of Rwanda as well.
In 2007 doctors in Rwanda hadn’t heard the words breast cancer, and there were no oncologists. Now, thanks to Philippa’s efforts, there are two.
If you’ve ever been diagnosed with a serious illness, you might feel like your body betrayed you. That’s how I felt when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’d been the poster girl for healthy living: I ate fresh fruits and vegetables, grilled chicken, no fast food or sugar, a glass of wine here and there; lots of exercise, regular checkups and yearly mammograms. When the shock wore off, my fear turned to anger and then to depression.
“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” Nora Ephron