I promise

"I promise, Suzy... Even if it takes the rest of my life." - Nancy G. Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

What is Triple Negative Breast Cancer?


Just in recent years, Triple Negative Breast Cancer has sparked interest in the news where instead of calling the tumor as ER-negative, PR-negative, and HER2-negative; researchers began using the shorthand term, "Triple Negative," dubbed the "new type" type of cancer. Being Triple Negative, you don't have a targeted therapy and that your only treatment option is chemotherapy.

Triple Negative is seen in about 15% of all breast cancers. Triple Negative is a very aggressive cancer that tends to strike younger women, pre-menopause, especially among African-American women and women who have BRCA1 mutations. The tumor tends to be fast growing and is less likely to show up on an annual mammogram. TN is more likely to metastasis early on; has a high rate of recurrence in the first 2-3 years from diagnosis and has a poorer prognosis than other types of breast cancer due to lack of specific, targeted treatment for TNBC.

Carpe diem

Seize Each new Day with Renewed Strength,
Believe in Yourself, Go forward with
Courage and faith
to face whatever Tomorrow may bring.

Chicks For Charity motto:

Enjoy life. Laugh a lot.
Work hard. Play hard.
Be thankful for our blessings.
Share the wisdom. Give back

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Victory Center Gals Unite at Komen Breakfast 2015

Us Victory Center pink sisters

The Komen Breakfast has always been special to me, as I sat in a room not only with my Victory Center survivor gals, but with among hundreds of other breast cancer survivors filling up a banquet room at The Pinnacle in Maumee, OH. on Sept. 12th.  It really is an eye-opener to see all these ladies, several young as 30's and 40's who had fought breast cancer... and they come to celebrate life as we get ready to kick-off the Komen Race on Sept. 27th.  It's always inspiring to hear Komen survivor honoree's speak and share their stories with us, and hear how Komen had helped honoree, Kit Curran by funding her mammogram... the mammogram that saved her life as the mammogram detected her breast cancer.  Stories like this makes me grateful that we have such a wonderful Komen affiliate in our community that provides these breast health needs to woman who are uninsured or under-insured.
Thank you Komen Northwest Ohio and Mary Westphal for your continued dedication to us women and for all the hours your staff puts in every day to stick to Komen's Mission: To End Breast Cancer Forever.

Lucy, Rita, Melissa, Chrys, Judi and Michelle
Joyce, Deb, Rita, Judi, Lucy, Michelle and Lauri
Kim, Lori, Beth, Sue, Melissa J. and Lynette
Michelle, Melissa, Lauri and Joyce on far right
Rita, Judi and Lucy
The beautiful, Barbara Oxner
with Jackie's mom, Mary
with Miss Teen Ohio, Shelby
with TNBC survivor, Lindsay Vanderveen

Friday, September 18, 2015

Komen Series #3: Together, We Are Strong in the Mission

While attending the reception and dinner at May 8, 2015, Komen Blogger Summit with fellow bloggers and Komen's social media team, conversations continued on Metastatic Breast Cancer while speaking with Komen Founder, Nancy Brinker.  Although it is not common in the U.S., 5% of newly diagnosis women will be diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer.  Nancy Brinker touches on this area saying,
"...we need help developing the kinds of stories and keeping  passion alive with the people who want to tell these stories and making them real and calling the media to accountability to make sure this is kept high and near...
 ...at the end of the day, if we don't do these things, we don't keep this issue to your point, the 5% of the people, and they don't know people still got it, you're right, people, they think that everybody is just gonna walk in the park and they are just gonna live with it..."
Komen's recently advocated to Congress for more funding not only for breast cancer research, but the need for more biomedical research support in general, increasing the NIH budget.  Another issue Komen discussed was oral parity... to take a pill that can make a difference in quality of life while going through treatment.  Dense breast and different kinds of screening were also discussed as well as disparities in breast cancer.
"It means that we, our voices together can make a difference. Elevate the conversations as we say, we can really bring people together and make them more aware." _ Dr. Judith Salerno

Komen Founder, Nancy Brinker
Nancy Brinker speaking on Metastatic Breast Cancer
Nancy Brinker and Melissa Paskvan
Nancy Brinker gladly signed our photo from last year
Me and my personal hero, Nancy Brinker
...and Nancy signs my copy of her book, Promise Me
Me with my blogger friends, Komen Grantees and Nancy Brinker
Together Stronger, Thank you for tweeting Nancy!
Dinner discussion with Dr. Judith Salerno, CEO of Komen
Nancy Brinker introducing British singer, Matt Goss to us
I go to shake Matt Goss hand and he says that he's a hugger :)
...and he smells good too! Matt Goss and Melissa Paskvan
Melissa Paskvan and CEO and President of Komen, Dr. Judith Salerno
Me with Komen Marketing team, Rhasheda Boyd and Tracy Mueller

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Meet the President...

Welcome to our Center!
On September 1, 2015, I was invited by Dr. Amy Thompson, Professor and Co-Director of University of Toledo's Center for Health and Successful Living to attend the visit of the University's new president (and first female), Dr. Sharon Gaber to the center.  Dr. Gaber was given a tour of the center and sat down in the conference room with all the members there, where she was detailed of the mission of the center and what services they provide to us breast cancer survivors.  Dr. Sharon Gaber told us that she is also a 4 year breast cancer survivor and was very interested in the direction of the Center and how it is helping survivors in our local community.  Being a breast cancer survivor myself and have participated in some of the Center's services, I was able to give Dr. Gaber some insight of the importance of need for these services for us survivors.  The Center has been an outlet for me to get away from the everyday life's routine and get involved with other survivors who have been dealing with their "new normal" too.  I have participated in the Center's book club, Pink Sneakers weekly walking program and a beach glass jewelry making class with my breast cancer survivor sisters.
UT President, Dr. Sharon Gaber and Melissa
Dr. Thompson and I have worked together at conferences talking about Triple Negative Breast Cancer and the importance of a good support system and living healthy.  I had attended a couple of other conferences co-presented by UT's Center for Health and Successful Living, one being "Spring into Survivorship" a day long conference for us breast cancer survivors to educate us on living a healthy lifestyle - mind, body and soul. 

With me having a very high deductible with my health insurance and also being unemployed, I tend to choose wisely when I seek medical attention and only see a doctor if it is really necessary, but the one test I do make sure I do every year is my mammogram and have gotten a few months behind on that.  I did have my mammogram in August and the report came back "benign", and I was aware that I had a few calcification spots shown up in my screening. I just wasn't comfortable with the wording in my report and knowing my tumor didn't show up with my diagnosis 6 years. Also, my left surgical breast has been painful to touch and also on the breastbone.  The Center was able to provide me with a clinical breast exam by Dr. Mabry as a free service for local women at their vendor tent at Toledo's Pride event, where they had table present with education material on breast cancer. Dr. Mabry reassured me during my exam that everything felt normal.    Back to the mammogram, since I have not had a Breast MRI in 3 years, my family doctor recommended as a precaution, to follow up with a MRI.  As I struggled with the thought of having an additional high medical bill because of not meeting my deductible,  Dr. Thompson offered to have any remaining balance of my breast MRI to be covered by a program through her center.  I was so grateful for her assistance to ease my worry about cost and making sure I don't hesitate to get the MRI done.   I was so honored to meet Dr. Sharon Gaber and having the opportunity to share with her my experiences with the center and how much there is a need for these services for us survivors in the community. 
One other thing I need to mention is that the Center does offer grief support that I have attended, as I was coping with the sudden loss of my mother in January. Co-Director of the center, Dr. Tim Jordan helped me tremendously in coping with my loss and remembering the happier times.  Thank you Dr. Amy Thompson, Dr. Tim Jordan and everyone else involved with the Center making it a success in impacting our lives.

Breast Health Education

Pink Sneakers... Walk on!

We all welcome you, Dr. Sharon Gaber!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

YSC 2015 Part 2: The Experience of Sisterhood...

YSC Houston 2015
Last March 6-8, 2015, I attended Young Survival Coalition Summit in Houston, Texas for a weekend conference filled with 500+ breast cancer survivors, workshops, discussions, inspirational speakers and vendors.  I have gotten to know many of the breast cancer survivors from attending conferences from previous years and each year I connect with many more survivors that I am just thrilled to meet and get to know them.  ...and every year, many of my TNBC sisters meet up and spend much of the weekend together, living life and having fun!  These are the ladies that I bond with and keep in touch with on our online TNBC support groups.  This year, my roommate was Tammie Turpen, tho not  TNBC, but a very special pink sister to me.  We had a fabulous time together dancing at the BBQ Under the Stars dinner picnic that was held across the street from the hotel with BBQ foods and a DJ that played dance music all night long.  That was probably the highlight of my weekend just dancing, laughing and just having a good time with all of my pink sisters, whom I haven't seen since last year's conference in Orlando, Florida.
The vendors in the exhibit hall always have a lot of resources information, giveaways, photo booths and a lot of cool things to purchase like t-shirts and pins. Me, I just like networking with the people of the different organizations and learn about how their organization is helping breast cancer survivors.  
The "In Memory" board is always emotional as we post photos and inspirational notes to remember those that are no longer with us.
One of the ladies I met up with outside of the conference was IBC/TNBC survivor, Terry Arnold who was from Houston and took time out of her day to come pick me up along with a few other ladies from the conference and take us out to breakfast and drove us by MD Anderson Cancer Center where Terry Arnold's organization, Inflammatory Breast Cancer Network has raised money for breast cancer research at MD Anderson.  
I was very excited to listen to Dr. Susan Love give her talk on Collateral Damage of Breast Cancer and get my picture taken with her and sign my copy of her book, Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book.  
Also, breast cancer survivor and author of Silver Lining, Hollye Jacob gave an excellent motivational speech that inspired us to finding our "silver lining" in our journey.  Hollye also provided every survivor with a free copy of her, The Silver Lining Companion Guide... of course, I got that signed too. 
I was so excited to see Dr. Judith Salerno, CEO and President of Komen National, attending the YSC Summit and bumping into her.  I have met Dr. Salerno at a previous Komen conference, and I just love her dedication to Komen and us breast cancer survivors. 
Young Survival Coalition CEO and breast cancer survivor, Jennifer Merschdorf is always a breath of fresh air when I listen to her presentations... She is so passionate about her work, bringing us pink sisters together every year and keep us all connected through their YSC website and Facebook.  This kind of support is very important to us survivors, getting us all together in one place to share stories and actually talk to someone who "get's it."  The Initiation Sucks, but the Sisterhood is Forever!, is a bold statement spoken by Jennifer and sums it up of what this conference is all about, support for each other and bonding that lasts a lifetime...  and I am so very thankful to Young Survival Coalition for the work they put into this Summit to educate us on the latest research and treatments for breast cancer, managing our side-effects and living a healthy life again, both physically and emotionally.
I attended 4 breakout session: Living Fully With, Through and After Cancer by Tambre Leign, Breast Cancer Update, Triple Negative Breast Cancer by Dr. Virginia Borges, Sex and Intimacy by Jean Rowe and Fitness and Nutrition, a Powerful Combo by Sami Mansfield.  I have posted a couple of other separate posts on the TNBC update and and fitness presentations, so look that up in my blog too. 
Outside of the conference, we pink sisters did a lot of dining out every night plus taking a train ride to the Rodeo to see many Texas Longhorns, shaved sheep and baby chicks being hatched.  After the Rodeo, we went to Pete's Dueling Piano Bar that was packed with standing room only to see 2 very entertaining piano players keying away on their pianos and singing fun popular songs like Journey's, "Don't Stop Believing" and Billy Joel's, "Piano Man."  We also spent a lot of time just sitting around in the lobby at night socializing or you could find us at the hot tub... we love the hot tub and pool with friends!
I look forward to seeing you all at 2016 YSC Summit in Atlanta!

Leaving the snow behind... Houston Bound!
Lobby time... Kathy Cook, Angela Martin, Julie Diehl,
Cindy Mammoser, Melissa Paskvan, Laura Hoytlyn,
Shreen Marie and Dusty Showers
TNBC Survivors, Alex Cortes and Melissa Paskvan
Dinner at Pappasito's Cantina...
Left side - Dusty Showers, Angie Martin, Kathy Cook
Right side - Melissa Paskvan,  Alexandra Cortes
and I see Jeanna Holler down towards the end.
TNBC Sisters, Alexandra Cortes and Melissa Paskvan
Umm, Dusty!
Breakfast at Black Walnut Cafe with the pink survivor
sisters Becky Maxson, Melissa Paskvan, Terry Arnold
 Founder of the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Network, 

Stephanie Landis and Norma Zimmer seated.
Terry Arnold is TNBC/IBC
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Each Other Gives Us Strength...
Tammie Turpen, Marisa Phillips, Dusty Showers,
Angela Martin, Eden Lackey and Michelle Green
Sara Kouten, Kathleen Vithanage, Lori Flowers of Triple Step 
Towards the Cure and Melissa Paskvan
TNBC survivors, Melissa Paskvan and Roxanne Martinez
Dinner again at Pappasito's Cantina with my TNBC sisters...
Left - Sara Kouten, Natalia Munoz, Alexandra Cortes
and Michelle Green
Right - Kathy Cook, Angie Martin, Tammie Turpen,
Melissa Paskvan, Jeanna Holler and Roxy Martinez
TNBC survivors, Kathleen Cook and Melissa
TNBC Sisters, Angela Martin, Kathleen Cook,
 Alexander Cortes, Natalia Munoz and Melissa Paskvan
Melissa Paskvan and Komen's, Carrie
TNBC Sisters, Melissa Paskvan and  Natalia Munoz
TNBC Sisters, Heather Ingo-Nutile and Melissa Paskvan
TNBC Sisters, Jeanna Holler and Melissa Paskvan
Susan G. Komen CEO and President, Dr. Judith Salerno 
and Melissa Paskvan
We were the "Highlight" of YSC Summit 2015!
BBQ Under the Stars... Roxanne Martinez, Melissa Paskvan,
Sara Kouten,  Alexandra Cortes, Angela Martin,
 Patti Parker-Phillips, Kathy Cook,  Natalia Munoz,
Tammie Turpen, Michelle Green, and Jeanna Holler
Dancing at BBQ Under the Stars... 
Angie Martin, Tammie Turpen, Melissa Paskvan 
and Heather Ingo-Nutile
TNBC Sisters Kathy Cook,
Patti Parker-Phillips,  Angie Martin
and Melissa Paskvan
TNBC sisters Roxanne Martinez,
Melissa Paskvan, Patti Parker-Phillips,
Sara Kouten,  Angie Martin, Kathy Cook,
Tammie Turpen, Michelle Green,
Alexandra Cortes and Natalia Munoz
TNBC Sisters, Kathleen Cook 
and Melissa Paskvan
Welcome to Young Survival Coalition Summit 2015
Sisterhood is forever!
YCS Co-Founder, Roberta Levy Schwartz
Tambre Leign, Life Coach at Well Beyond Ordinary
Ask the experts with Dr. Susan Love on the end.
Dr. Susan Love, Breast Surgeon, Author of
Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book and Founder
of Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation 
"For a future without breast cancer"
 and Melissa Paskvan
Dr. Susan Love and Melissa Paskvan promoting her book
Pink Sisters Melissa Paskvan, Terlisa Sheppard,
Felicity Galenti and Roxanne Martinez
TNBC Sisters Always...
 Standing: Angela Martin, Sara Kouten, Patti Parker Phillips,
Kathleen Vithanage, Kathy Cook and Michelle Green
Kneeling: Natalia Munoz, Melissa Paskvan and Jeanna Holler
Roxanne Martinez, My roommate Tammie Turpen 
and Melissa Paskvan
TNBC Sisters, Melissa Paskvan, Sara Kouten 
and Kathy Cook
Texas Rodeo time, TNBC sisters style...
Kathy Cook, Michelle Green, Sara Kouten, Alex Cortes,
Melissa Paskvan and Natalia Munoz
Fun at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar with my TNBC sisters...
Sara Kouten, Natalia Munoz, Alexandra Cortes,
Kathy Cook and Melissa Paskvan
Cramming in the evevator... Oh wait, selfie!
Roxanne Martinez, Angie Martin, Michelle Green,
Heather Ingo-Nutile, Tammie Turpen,
Melissa Paskvan and Jeanna Holler
Dusty peeking over Melissa, Kathy, Sara and Jeanna
TNBC Sisters, Kathy Cook and Melissa Paskvan
Group selfie with Flat Jolene... always with us in spirit.
Kathy Cook, Marisa Phillips, Sara Kouten, Jeanna Holler, 
Natalia Munoz, Alex Cortes,Melissa Paskvan, 
Tammie Turpen, Dusty Showers and Angie Martin
Dusty Showers, Tammie Turpen, Carol Hachey,
Heather Ingo-Nutile and Melissa Paskvan
Melissa Paskvan and Kenny Kane of 
Hollye Jacobs, author of The Silver Lining 
and Melissa Paskvan
Melissa and Jennifer Merschdorf, CEO of 
Young Survival Coalition
YSC sisters forever!
Departing...  Kathleen, Melissa, Sara Kouten, Alex,
Heather, Traci Gordon, Tammie, Patti, Jeanna,
 Kathy, Angie and Dusty
Good-bye Kathleen Cook, we love you!
Downtown Houston
Last minute good-byes... Tammie, Melissa, Jeanna, Traci,
Laura, Julie and Patti
YSC CEO, Jennifer Merschdorf, Tammie Turpen
 and Melissa Paskvan
Don't let those LandSharks go to waste...
Tanyis Brunscheon, Tammie Turpen and Melissa Paskvan
In memory of our TNBC Sisters we lost

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