The social network for women facing breast cancer.

The following is a personal story written by Kristy, an ambassador of MyBCTeam, the social network for women facing breast cancer. Below she shares how when planning to begin a family, her breast cancer journey began. If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, go to MyBCTeam. and connect with other women who ‘get it’. Thousands of women from all over the country are here to share not only their stories, but their daily lives: the good days and bad days of living with breast cancer. Read more at www.MyBCTeam.com

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When I was younger, I used to fear death. “What happens to us?” “What if I never see you again?” I used to ask my parents questions all of the time. One night when I was having trouble sleeping my Dad said to me, “Kristy, we are all going to die. It’s a fact of life, but if you spend the rest of your life worrying about when it’s going to happen then what kind of life have you lived?” My Dad  is a smart man. I took these words and ran with it. Not knowing that these words would help me throughout my entire life. When we received confirmation that I had cancer, I asked one simple question, “What’s next?” I didn’t cry, I didn’t freeze up, this was the fact, and all there was to do was to fix it. The recommendation was mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation…the whole kit and caboodle.  Then came the most devastating news…with chemotherapy there is a 50% chance that I will become infertile. I couldn’t believe it.

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We opted out of fertility preservation, because with the state the economy was in, it was hard to justify depleting our savings and we didn’t qualify for financial assistance. There was also a bit of a risk in it because my cancer fed off of hormones. I turned my focus from having a family to making sure I’m still alive for the family that already existed. After all, if I ever wanted my dreams to come true, then I had to be alive for it.Kristy's Family

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In November 2009, after two rounds of chemotherapy, my body was thrown into a chemically induced menopause. I chose not to let it scare me. I knew that there was at least a 50% chance that I would come out of it. I also knew that there was nothing I could do about it and that I needed to focus on the positive, not the negative.

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In March 2010, I  had a dream one night. In my dream, my Grandma came to me. She looked at me and said, “Kristy, I just wanted to let you know that everything is going to be okay.” That day, I came out of my temporary menopause. Grandma was right. Everything is okay.

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In September 2013, my husband and I welcomed our first child into this world.  When I look at Nate, my world makes a little more sense. All the trials, all the waiting, it was all worth it. Nate was the child meant for me. Everything about him is perfect. He is my angel.

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But that is not the end of my story…there is much more to come from this life. In October 2014, Nate will be a big brother!

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I guess if I had to pick on moral from my story, it would be to never give up on your dreams. You never know when they will come true, but in order for them to come true, you must never stop believing that they will.

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Now I have a baby, and not cancer.

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The following is a personal story from Nancy, an ambassador of MyBCTeam, the social network for women facing breast cancer. Below she shares her story through an inspirational and emotional poem she wrote. If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, go to www.MyBCTeam.com and connect with other women who ‘get it.’ Thousands of women from all over the country are here to share not only their stories, but their daily lives: the good days and bad days of living with breast cancer. 

nancy pinto

Nancy and her husband on a recent trip to Puerto Rico.

He held his breath

She blurted: I should have this lump checked out

Her tears fell as he held her,

For she knew without a doubt

They went for Ethiopian

Because she had once stated

She was curious to try it

So there they ate, deflated

The days crawled by in torture

Then, the last invasive test

Confirmed her worst suspicion:

She had cancer in her breast

“Whatever I must do to fight,

No problem, bring it on!

Mastectomy or chemo

I just want this tumor gone!”

Sleep eluded her completely

Grotesque question plagued her mind

Will I go straight to heaven?

What of those I leave behind?

Then, good news from the doctors

It’s a very early stage!

You have time to weigh your options

Due to good health and your age!

With zero hesitation, she instructed:

“Take them both.

I will not risk my healthy breast

Developing a growth.”

The surgery went smoothly

There was pain, but she’d be fine

The next day was her birthday

She was only thirty-nine

A few days hence, recovering,

Her husband took the call

“They found a small invasion.

You’ll need chemo after all.”

A crushing blow, betrayal

By what her cells could do

Though grateful for the medicine

There is much they don’t know, too

Her husband was her everything

He researched and he read

He cooked and cleaned and made her laugh

He even shaved his head

She renamed chemo “chocolate sauce”

It simply sounded better

Oh, cancer made a big mistake

She’d never let it get her

She cut her hair in stages

Crazy long to short and sweet

She wept, as all the last of it

Drifted to her feet

Her tummy and her veins were pissed

These meds are an intrusion!

She battled with increased fatigue

And chemo brain confusion

Immunity was compromised

Most days she stayed indoors

She missed her life, activities

She even missed her chores!

Despite the inconveniences

Her days were filled with laughter

Creating lists of all the things

She planned to do right after

Whenever she had energy

She’d take a good, long walk

If fear was overwhelming,

She and God would have a talk

Her friends and family visited

Some days she’d have a drink!

Her sister held a fundraiser

To benefit the Pink

Then, finally, the day came

For her sixth and final round

She’d live again! She made it

With all the strength she’d found

Six weeks later, nervous,

To CrossFit she returned

And gave the workout all she had

Although her muscles burned

The gym is not for crying

But that day, the cheers were loud

She fell into a sweaty heap

Exhausted, happy, proud

To the bucket list! Continue!

As she holds each silver lining

There’s a lot more life for living

And this cancer’s not defining

The journey’s filled with winding roads

The future disappears

She plans to handle it with grace

For many, many years!

The below post is from the Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation. Amy Niles, Director of Patient Advocacy and Professional Relations, shares with MyBCTeam the resources and services that PAN can offer to those who are underinsured. If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, go to MyBCTeam and connect with other women who “get it”.  Thousands of women from all over the country are here to share not only their stories, but their daily lives: the good days and bad days of living with breast cancer.

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For thousands of breast cancer patients, including many members of the MyBCTeam Nurse Assisting Patient Undergoing Mammogramcommunity, one of the first questions regarding treatment and quality of life is, “How will I pay for this?” Patients who have been just getting by or even those who consider themselves fully financially stable often find themselves unable to afford the out-of-pocket costs associated with their prescribed medications. For many, the Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation may be able to help.

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Founded in 2004, the PAN Foundation is a nationwide, independent nonprofit dedicated to providing financial assistance to underinsured patients, or patients who have insurance but still face financial hardship in affording complex specialty medications such as chemotherapy. PAN has provided nearly $400 million in assistance to more than 200,000 patients across our nearly 60 disease-specific programs including programs designed for patients being treated for metastatic breast cancer, bone metastases, chemotherapy and induced neutropenia.

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What is PAN assistance?

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PAN provides grants to qualifying patients to help pay for the out-of-pocket portions of their qualifying medication costs. There is no cost to the patient or their healthcare provider to receive assistance from PAN. Once a patient is approved, PAN allocates a certain amount of money, $1,500-$10,000 varying by disease, that patients have access to for 12 months. When a patient receives a treatment or medication, their healthcare provider or specialty pharmacy submits a claim to PAN for the co-pay or coinsurance amount not covered by the patient’s insurance – allowing patients the peace of mind to continue their therapy without worrying about submitting reimbursement claims to PAN. PAN also features what we call a 90-day look-back, which means if a patient has incurred qualifying expenses at any time during the 90-days prior to their grant approval, PAN will reimburse them directly through their grant.

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Who can qualify for PAN assistance?

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The PAN philosophy is based on an understanding that the cost of specialty medications can be a burden even for those well above the poverty level.  While criteria vary per disease-specific program, generally patients with household incomes at or below 400-500% of the federal poverty level ($62,920-78,650 for a family of two) are eligible to receive assistance. Patients must be insured and some programs require that patients have Medicare insurance. Patients must be diagnosed with one of the nearly 60 diseases for which PAN operates a program and must reside and receive treatment in the United States. Assistance is only available for mediations that treat the disease directly.

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How to apply for PAN assistance:

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PAN has developed multiple application routes, all delivering patients’ eligibility determinations in under one minute, so patients know instantly whether they have been approved for assistance.

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    • To apply online, visit www.PANfoundation.org and select “Online Application”
    • To apply over the phone, call 866-316-PANF (7263). Representatives are available 9:00 am to 5:00 pm eastern time
    • Physicians and Specialty Pharmacists have access online portals where they may apply on behalf of patients and manage their grant and claims electronically
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To learn more about Patient Access Network and PAN’s assistance programs, visit www.PANfoundation.org.

Sign up for MyBCTeam

The following is a personal story written by Kristy, an ambassador of MyBCTeam, the social network for women facing breast cancer. Below she shares how when planning to begin a family, her breast cancer journey began. If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, go to MyBCTeam and connect with other women who ‘get it’.  Thousands of women from all over the country are here to share not only their stories, but their daily lives: the good days and bad days of living with breast cancer.

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When I was asked to do this blog, I wasn’t quite sure where to begin. I guess that I’ll begin where any good story begins…the beginning.kristy_photo

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Well, maybe not the very beginning, 19 years of me growing up is a pretty average story. The beginning of this story starts in October of 1998. I was 19-years-old. At the time, I was trying to set a friend up with a co-worker and wasn’t even thinking about love for myself.

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We planned a double date, my co-worker and a friend of his and myself and my friend. I never expected that my co-worker’s friend would have every quality that I was attracted to. He was smart, handsome, confident, and funny. Fast forward to November 2006, I now call this man my husband.

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Jason and I courted for many years because we wanted to finish college before we got married. As a result, we were head over heels in love with each other when we got married. We decided to wait until we had a house and some savings before we started a family. This proved to be difficult for me because all of my friends were having kids and I really wanted to be a Mom.

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We bought our house in the fall of 2007. Finally, at the end of the spring in 2009 we made a decision. October…October was the month! The month that we would start working on making my dreams come true. July 2009 came, and I was happy as can be. July is my birthday month and my birthday is my favorite day of the year. Then came the end of July.

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I had been working on painting ceilings, and one night as I went to bed, I extended my arms over my head because it made my aching back feel better. Jason was lying next to me, and reached over to be his silly, playful self and grabbed my right breast. His finger hit a lump.

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I called the next day and made an appointment with my doctor. My doctor then sent me for a mammogram just to be sure it was nothing. My mammogram was followed by an ultrasound. I sat in the room with the technician and the radiologist, and heard the words “Your lump resembles cancer.”

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My thoughts were scattered.

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My lump, what? This isn’t possible. No, no way. I’m supposed to have a baby. You don’t understand. I’m supposed to have a baby…not cancer.

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August 14, 2009 at 30-years-old, less than two months before I was going to make my dreams come true, a positive biopsy made it official. I had breast cancer.

 

Sign up for MyBCTeam

The following is a personal story written by Amy, an ambassador of MyBCTeam, the social network for women facing breast cancer. Below she shares how focusing on her diet and the foods she eats gave her back control over her life. If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, go to MyBCTeam and connect with other women who ‘get it.’ Thousands of women from all over the country are here to share not only their stories, but their daily lives: the good days and bad days of living with breast cancer. 

 

Being diagnosed with cancer is a life altering experience. I felt so out of control that I desperately needed to find something thatAmy I could control. My diet was one of the few things I could think of that may have a serious impact on my survival and something I had some control over. I made a decision to rethink what to put in my body. From what I’ve read, cancer thrives in a low oxygen, acidic environment which occurs in a body that does not distribute oxygen well (lack of exercise) and one that consumes a lot of processed, fried, nutrient deficient with excess sugar, fat and salt. Eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish will create a more alkaline environment and starve the cancer cells from proliferation. So here are some useful tips on eating healthy and why I try hard so to do so.

 
For breakfast, I start out my day with an organic green smoothie. I usually use kale, spinach, or dandelion as my greens. I add celery, cucumber and what other veggies I might have at home. I put in flax-seeds or fish oil for omega-3 needs, a handful of nuts, kefir as my probiotic and protein, an apple or frozen berries (I like to use these fruits because they have low sugar), and ½ cup of coconut water and ½ cup of pomegranate juice. I find these smoothies are delicious, packed with raw nutrients and live enzymes that my body needs. Because my body doesn’t have to digest these foods, my body can absorb the nutrients more efficiently and give my digestive system a break. I find it easy to get a lot of whole foods at once.

 

I also started drinking 2-3 cups of green tea daily. According to Dr. Kristi Funk at Pink Lotus Breast Center it reduces breast cancer risk by 50 percent. Chemicals in green tea called poly-phenols appear to inhabit tumor cell growth and migration. It was a simple change that may have a great impact.

 

My other daily regimen is adding turmeric to my diet. It’s an inexpensive orange-colored spice imported from India.  It is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-oxidants out there. There are hundreds of good articles on turmeric including one from the American Cancer Society. I often add it to my eggs, smoothies, soups, and salads.

 

Eating less processed foods and eating more organic whole foods can mean more cooking at home. It isn’t always easy with two small children. It takes additional planning, shopping, and prepping. I find it satisfying and quite often the food tastes better than eating out. So with my cancer, I have a new passion…cooking!

 

I am dedicated to eating healthy and it is a lot of work. But after a while, it becomes part of your life style. It doesn’t mean I won’t have desserts or go for some potato chips on occasion. In my opinion, an anti-cancer diet regimen won’t cure cancer or guarantee that it won’t reoccur. But it is one of the most important pieces to complete one’s health that I can control. My goal is to increase my chance for long-term survival. I can’t control everything about my cancer, but I feel empowered by what I can put in my body and give my cells the nutrients they need to keep my cancer at bay. I get to take control over what to feed my cells every time I eat and I’m thankful for that opportunity.

 

Join MyBCTeam.com today and find support from more than 5,000 women who knew what it means to face breast cancer. 

The following is a personal story from Ida, an ambassador of MyBCTeam, the social network for women facing breast cancer. Below she shares how laughter helped her through her breast cancer diagnosis. If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, go to MyBCTeam and connect with other women who ‘get it.’ Thousands of women from all over the country are here to share not only their stories, but their daily lives: the good days and bad days of living with breast cancer. 

 

Ida

My 55th birthday was coming up in four days. I had dropped a million hints that I wanted an iPad. I hoped the discrete little hints that I left for my husband and sons were not too subtle for them not to catch on. Pictures of iPads taped on the refrigerator and bathroom mirrors, tactful little hints like, “Honey I want an iPad for my birthday,” “Boys if you’re wondering what to get me for my birthday and Mother’s Day I want an iPad,” were all gently hinted at.

 

The days were counting down but I wasn’t sensing anything. Were they going to surprise me? Maybe I had confused them, they are men after all. So with another one of my masterful subliminal hints I gave it my last shot…”Attention everybody, I think it would be a great idea if you ALL chipped in together and got me an iPad.”

 

So, do you think I got the iPad? No.

 

Instead I got breast cancer. Well Happy F–king Birthday to me!

 

I immediately went into worrying; not about having breast cancer, I couldn’t change that, but how was I going to tell my family. Telling my mom was going to be the hardest, so the next day I went over to tell her. I waited and waited for her to sit down. She was driving me crazy! How can one person be so busy doing nothing; a comment I’ll deny till the end.

 

Finally she moves towards the couch. I take a deep breath preparing for what I have to tell her, and then with a quick turn she’s back at the sink having decided to water the plants! Murder was now on my mind! I was getting desperate so I did the only logical thing – I spoke to my father. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? He always knew how to help me with my mom. As I silently ask my father how to get my mom to sit down, he doesn’t fail me, because lo and behold she stubs her toe. Ok, that wasn’t what I had in mind, but I asked for help and as always, he delivered. Did I mention he passed away years ago?

 

As is my nature I told her everything with a positive attitude. Knowing I would do whatever it would take, I already considered myself a survivor and I told her so. I wasn’t going to let cancer change my outlook.

 

She was sitting there kinda numb looking, trying to be strong for me as I was trying to be for her. So I continued talking and as happens from time to time I said something that she was less then pleased with. “You know mom, for some years now my breasts have only looked good when my hands were above my head; think of the improvement a new pair could give me.” She looked at me in horror, not knowing if I was serious or joking, I of course was both.

 

So my breast cancer journey began…and I’m still waiting for an iPad.

 

Stay tuned to my journey through breast cancer, where laughable moments always present themselves.

The following is a personal story from Judy, an ambassador of MyBCTeam, the social network for women facing breast cancer. Below she shares several of the breast cancer awareness events that mean something to her and why.  If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, go to http://www.MyBCTeam.com and connect with other women who ‘get it.’ Thousands of women from all over the country are here to share not only their stories, but their daily lives: the good days and bad days of living with breast cancer. 

judyFor me, breast cancer awareness month starts with the NEPA Race For The Cure. My oldest daughter, my grandchildren and I have looked forward to this event for the past four years and hope to continue this tradition for many years to come. Next, we attended the annual turning the fountain pink at my state capitol building in support of the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition. This acts as a daily reminder to my state government the importance of finding a cure and that the state plays a big part in securing funding for breast cancer research and passing legislation that contributes to the cause. The coalition was founded by a woman, who is a force to be reckoned with and, you guessed it; she is a breast cancer survivor! Celebrating the coalition’s 20th anniversary, I am reminded that there is power in ONE. The coalition’s annual conference is a mixture of sharing and education, with this year being no exception. My next adventure included the honor of being the guest speaker at the First Annual Pink Light Walk in my neighboring community.

When all the activities and events surround me each “Pinktober,” I am re-energized knowing this is my opportunity to share. Sharing my story, while emphasizing the importance of screening, is my way of giving back. With each passing year, I make new friends, but the highlight to these experiences is time spent revisiting with old friends. Breast cancer has, many times, taken me outside of my comfort zone. But looking into the crowd of the familiar faces as I speak at the First Annual Pink Light Walk, I find my refuge in those who share the passion of advocacy.  Passion is something I have gained in spite of all the losses I may have suffered because of breast cancer.

The old saying, “It takes a village,” can be applied to many things in life because, fortunately, we are not alone. Each year I purchase embroidered pink ribbon stickers to hand out to all my co-workers who proudly sport them all month long. Every day this small token warms my heart as a reminder of their relentless support of me. They know they can ask me anything about my health, diagnosis or treatments and share their own feelings and fears without hesitation. For this, I am both very humbled and proud. The passion to encourage, and to be encouraged is what breast cancer awareness month means to me.

To top off this month of advocacy, a surprise interview by a local news station celebrity made our celebration extra special this year when my five excited grandchildren got their 15 seconds of fame! While this year marks my five-year anniversary of SURVIVORSHIP, I reflect on what I have accomplished and how much more I want to accomplish. I will continue to make the most of breast cancer awareness by expressing hope, courage and strength throughout the entire year. It also means it is my turn to rejoice in the news that my appointments will be further apart therefore, less frequent. Life is TRULY a gift!

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