, February 20, 2017 | More Post by

My name is Robin and I am a Board Member and also a volunteer for Here For the Girls. I am not a Boober!; never had breast cancer; have no immediate or even distant relatives who have had breast cancer. I have, however, watched several co-workers and the wife of a good friend die from this horrific disease. My husband Steve is also a very active volunteer and supporter of Here For the Girls. He sports a pink ribbon tattoo and is thrilled to answer when someone asks why. The assumption is always he has lost a mother/wife/sister/daughter to breast cancer. Nope to all. In addition, we have pulled in our daughter Kari and son-in-law John as volunteers for H4TG!

Our relationship with Beyond Boobs! began five years ago. As the charity of choice for Steve’s motorcycle club, we sometimes spent 12 hours a day on the weekends raising money at every fair and festival during the spring and summer. Nothing better than a bunch of bikers sporting pink tutu’s and boas, asking folks to support an organization called Beyond Boobs! Some of the ensuing conversations were priceless!! The money raised by the motorcycle club funded a Beyond Boobs! Retreat for the Boobers. I was honored to be asked to be a “kitchen fairy” at one of these retreats (and continue to do so) and I can honestly say it changed my life.

During that first retreat, I watched the ladies attend seminars on topics such as healthy eating, painting, aroma therapy, exercise, team building on the beach, etc. Some of these warriors were going through chemo, which had left them bald and ill; some were 2 years out; some 10 years out. They laughed, cried, sang, hugged, yelled, – and jumped in the cold Atlantic Ocean, after dark, holding onto each other – 30 strong! I will never, ever forget the joy and laughter on their faces as they ran back into the house; wet, cold; but fully and totally alive. It was during this retreat that it dawned on me that these were young women in the prime of their lives, hit with devastating news, yet living and loving like all of us should be doing. Feeling sorry for themselves – uh, no way! Too much living left to do to be bogged down in pity!!

The goodness, kindness, and fierce support Here For the Girls has for the Boobers! is unparalleled in any other organization with which I have worked. The Boobers! themselves build each other up by offering love, friendship, unwavering support, laughter and sometime tears. For those of us who are fortunate enough to volunteer for this great organization, we get to meet and get to know the actual ladies – not some line item on a set of financials.  For all of these reasons, and many more, I love this organization and all it does for the ladies.

The assumption for many is that you volunteer or invest in an organization because you have been personally impacted by the “cause.” I am here to tell you nothing could be further from the truth. You invest because of the mission, the impact, the good, the hope, the difference it makes in the lives of those in need. That is why I totally support Here For the Girls… because they truly are “Here For the Girls…”

So remember, every day is a celebration… sometimes you enjoy it by yourself; or enrich your soul when you share it with others.

, February 13, 2017 | More Post by

Welcome to our “Pink Link Stories” blog series! These stories are from women who are a part of (or support) our virtual Pink Link community for breast cancer survivors (pinklink.org). Each quarter, we offer a new writing prompt — this quarter, we asked women to share their breast cancer story. We will publish the entries here (lightly edited for length and typos), and we’ll also be randomly selecting one entrant each quarter to receive a $50 gift card! If you want to submit your story right now, just send it (along with a photo, if you’d like) to desiree.parker@hereforthegirls.org. If you want to keep up with future writing prompts, sign up for our newsletter here.

While breast cancer survivors’ stories may sound the same, they are as different as hair, hands, and foreheads! They are all unique and special. Each story is told from the standpoint of a medical course, yet the bravest course of treatment is the psychological one taken by survivors. They did not anticipate the anxiety or depressive symptoms that would unfold as chemotherapy, radiation, and mastectomy or lumpectomy lurked.

I am a survivor of breast cancer, her2+, some inflammatory, stage 3C. I am not alone and I am not unintelligent. I am not sedentary nor am I brave! Without the medical community, I would probably no longer have the life I live today.

Without movement, exercise, and a nutrition focus, I would be far less energetic five years in NED (No Evidence of Disease), in my late fifties! The integrative efforts through the Cancer Institute here in Virginia and the tenderness of their care in those early developmental stages of life in cancer treatment were sound. I researched and knew this journey was going to take some time. I chose, and shared my choices, and they were always well received.

I fought with family and a dear friend, Amber J., with whom I shared weekly conversations regarding anything. She was my confidante and I was her joy! Married with a stepson, we shared our faith and our joys in a heavenly savior who was available to us during these seasons of tremendous loss. I had lost a friend with whom I had been in a loving relationship, his death a suicide. Her losses were family, her mother, a fifth grade teacher in Los Angeles. Together we shared our foibles in the transition from West coast to East.

My cancer has not returned! I don’t know why.

Do you know why your cancer has not returned? Immune support through relationships is as important to personal diet as exercise, nutrition, spiritual connections, and laughter, yes just plain fun! Joie de Vivre!

A support group called Beyond Boobs! (a support service of Here for the Girls) is a place inspiring to me. I worked as a volunteer with them for a year and a half in an alter ego personality, still my own, dressing up and dressing down to spread the message of hope in an educational forum. They like me! And I love them!

On I went from my developmental years as a thriving cancer adolescent to my young adult years (remember I am late fifties), and now into yoga! I love yoga! I wore this body into submission through yoga teacher training and the aches and pains of now stretching to a point where I felt I ought to stretch even more.

Gratitude, giving, and remembering those who have helped, supported, nourished, and prayed for me and my household.

As I move into survivorship as a clinician, I have more to learn and more to give in this fight for health, beauty, and yes, wealth. We all need to support ourselves through many avenues of thought and action. Survivorship is a process. Be kind to yourself! It takes time to relearn those moments we call Life. We may indeed use that anxiety or even depression for a greater good or purpose. It seems to require our thoughtful time.

-Joanne H.

, February 07, 2017 | More Post by

Welcome to our first “Pink Link Stories” blog post! These stories are from women who are a part of (or support) our virtual Pink Link community for breast cancer survivors (pinklink.org). Each quarter, we offer a new writing prompt — this quarter, we asked women to share their breast cancer story. We will publish the entries here (lightly edited for length and typos), and we’ll also be randomly selecting one entrant each quarter to receive a $50 gift card! If you want to submit your story right now, just send it (along with a photo, if you’d like) to desiree.parker@hereforthegirls.org. If you want to keep up with future writing prompts, sign up for our newsletter here.

LaShaun says…

My story started in April 2015. I went in to have my annual mammogram. While we were waiting for the results, they called me back into the office and said that they needed to take some more pictures. So. I didn’t think anything of it, until they called me back into a private room with my husband. The pathologist said, “I’m not going to beat around the bush, I’m going to be honest with you. It looks like cancer.” At that time, my heart fell and all I could think was, “I don’t want to die!” The pathologist then says that we need to do a biopsy right then and there. So, while I was waiting for the biopsy to begin, all I could think was that I didn’t want to die. I remember the pathologist saying that they were going to put 8 markers in my breast. I could feel every needle prick and at each prick, I cried. On top of that, I was counting each one and there were 10 pricks, not 8.

As I was driving home, all I could think of was, how am I going to tell the rest of my family? When I got home, my 19-year-old daughter was home and she could see that something was wrong. I told her I was scared and I was not sure how to tell my parents that I might have breast cancer. Well, I didn’t have much time to think about it, because my daughter called my dad. As soon as he asked me what was wrong, I started crying and told him that it looks like I have breast cancer. He was very calm and just said, “let’s wait and see what the results of the biopsy are.”

We had to wait over the weekend and that weekend seemed to last forever. On Monday, I was at work and I got a phone call from my family doctor. She said wasn’t sure if she wanted to tell me the news face-to-face or leave a message or tell me over the phone. She decided to tell me that she was sorry, but I did have breast cancer. At this time, I was freaking out and crying.  I finally asked her if my husband and I could come in and ask her some questions. She agreed to meet with us that day after work.

I called my husband and let him know the outcome of the biopsy results. After talking to him, I told my boss what was going on and that I needed to go home for the rest of the day. While I was at home, I called my brother, who doesn’t live that far from me. I had my husband meet me at the doctor’s office so we could talk to her about my options and what our next steps were going to be. We had plenty of questions for her. She was unable to answer them all, but we understood we had options. We were told to call the Longmont hospital and set up an appointment to see an oncologist. Just as I was about to call and set up a meeting, my brother called me and asked me to not do anything until after he came over and talked to me. I agreed… he told me that a friend of ours was diagnosed with breast cancer and that I should call her oncologist in Fort Collins at the Harmony Cancer Center. She gave him all the information that I needed to reach out to her. I called the hospital in Fort Collins and said that I needed to set an appointment with this specific oncologist. the receptionist told me that before I could see her, I needed to have my biopsy results and any other information sent to her office. So, it took me 2 days to get the discs and information sent to Fort Collins. Once the office had my results, I was asked to come to Fort Collins that next week.

When my husband and I met with the oncologist, we had an array of questions we wanted answered. The first question we had was, “should we get a second opinion.” The doctor told us this: she is on the board of directors and my case was seen by her and 6 other doctors, so my case is getting 6 opinions. Once they agreed on what was seen, they came up with a game plan, all before I came into the office that day. As I was trying to write the answers to my questions, my oncologist took my notebook and wrote them down for me, so I would be able to focus on her answers. the main reason we stayed with her and that office was because she knew everything about my case and she didn’t have to keep looking at her notes. We felt as if she really cared about us and the best way to help me with the breast cancer.

During that meeting, she explained to me that I had Stage 3 breast cancer. Her game plan for me was to go through 20 weeks of chemotherapy, surgery, and then 6 weeks of radiation. Before we could start chemotherapy, I would need to take a pre-chemo class and have a power port inserted into my chest. Well, I had never had a surgery in my entire life. I had the surgery for my port at the end of April 2015. I started chemotherapy, the day after Mother’s Day in May 2015. My husband took me to my first couple of treatments. We had a schedule and a plan to have some of closest friends and family take me to my treatments, since I was not able to drive there and back. For the first 8 weeks, I was going to Fort Collins, twice a week, every other week. I was told that I would be tired for about 2 days and then recover over the weekend. I was able to work at least 3 days a week during the first 6 weeks. At exactly 2 weeks of my treatment, I noticed that I was losing my hair. I was so devastated, I called my sister, who was going to take some pictures of me before I lost my hair. I called her and asked her to cover that night and take those pictures, because I needed to take out my extensions. She came over, took some pictures and we make arrangements to have my hair cut really short.  I remember taking out my extensions and washing my hair that night. I kid you not, when I was done washing my hair, I looked like Fire Marshall Bill from In Living Color…..haha!

When my first 8 weeks were done, I was able to change my appointment day to Thursday, so I could take Thursdays and Fridays off to recover. At this time, I was able to work, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday every week. My job was open to it and they have been very supportive of my treatment schedules. I finished my chemotherapy in Sept 2015… and on October 27th, 2015, I had a double mastectomy, because I did not want to deal with the cancer spreading if I only had one removed. I also had 13 lymph nodes removed on the left side. The only time off of work was the 6 weeks to recover from the surgery.

After I was healed and able to lift my arms above my head, I was able to meet with the radiation oncologist. I had a game plan there too. I was to start radiation in January and it was to be, everyday for 6 weeks. the side effect was tiredness.  I made the best of my time and I was working out as much I could. In February, I ended my radiation therapy. the day after I completed my radiation, I did the Fight for Air Climb, in Denver, to help fight lung cancer. I was able to climb all 56 flight of stairs in a little more than an hour. I was so proud of myself. Since I have completed chemo and radiation therapy, I think I have had about 4 more surgeries and I still have another one scheduled in the near future to have my implants put in. I have been working out 6 days a week, and I start a workout clinical trial soon, twice a week for 6 weeks.

Thank you for listening to my story.

LaShaun D