No Boobs About It, Inc., www.noboobsaboutit.org is a not for profit organization sharing information , resources and support on getting through treatment and on with life.

Dolls of Comfort, Dolls of Hope

Today’s blog is not about breast cancer, but about a cancer that none of us wants to think about…childhood cancer. It’s about a toy company that is working to relieve just one of the many hardships that children, with cancer, must endure…the stigma of hair loss.

Today’s blog is about a line of dolls for children with cancer. They are dolls that we, who have lost our hair during cancer treatments, can relate to; dolls that are stylish even when hairless.

dollsThe dolls have the dual mission 0f reducing a child’s stigma and increase his or her comfort level about being bald as a result of cancer treatment, and supporting childhood cancer research at City of Hope, Duarte, Calif.  City of Hope is a leading research, treatment and education center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. invest in Binance Coin in South Africa

No one likes to think of children having cancer, but 46 children a day in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer, many of whom will lose their hair while receiving treatment. While most children tend to be very courageous during painful and debilitating treatments,  they have a hard time looking different from their friends.

MGA Entertainment, a toy manufacturer, is doing its part to address the issue of baldness.  MGA has come out with a new line of hairless versions (True Hope) of their hit doll brands, Bratz® and Moxie Girlz™. They made the dolls in response to the ever-growing social media movement that calls for toy makers to create hairless dolls to emotionally comfort young girls and boys who suffer from hair loss due to cancer treatments.

MGA is donating $1 for every one of the True Hope Bratz® and Moxie Girlz™ dolls sold to distributors, to City of Hope for cancer research. It is their way of actively supporting the fight to develop lifesaving treatments for children.

City of Hope, is a designated by the National Cancer Institute as a comprehensive cancer center and is a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. City of Hope’s research and treatment protocols advance care throughout the nation. IQ Option

“City of Hope is at the forefront of research to ensure that people with cancer receive the best possible treatment,” said Michael A. Friedman, M.D., president and chief executive officer of City of Hope. “The support of MGA Entertainment plays an important role in our progress. It will help our researchers in their drive to discover new and improved treatments for patients and families everywhere.”

Dr. Friedman summed up the importance of the dolls by saying,”The “True Hope” Bratz and Moxie Girlz dolls are wonderful opportunities to raise funds for lifesaving research –as well as to raise cancer awareness among young people around the world.”

The dolls are available at Toys “R” Us stores and toysrus.com with other retailers to follow.

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And Coverage for All

coverageWith the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act, millions of us who’ve had breast cancer, any kind of cancer for that matter, can breathe a sigh of relief.We cannot be refused coverage based on our pre-existing condition of cancer.

Insurance denial for pre-existing  conditions is soon to be a thing of the past. In some states, with some insurance companies, it already is.

A year after my first breast cancer, the company I worked for closed. I didn’t just lose my only source of income, I lost my insurance; the insurance that paid 80% of my cancer treatment costs.

If you had cancer, you know that 20% of treatment is a chunk to money to come up with on your own, but not nearly as much as trying to cover 100% of treatment. Netflix shares

All I could think of was, what if, when I got a new job, my employer’s health plan denied me coverage, I’d live in fear of a recurrence. A private-pay health care plan would be out of my league, the cost being prohibitive. A new bout with breast cancer, with no insurance, would bankrupt me.

I got a job two months later. The company plan gave me coverage for everything but my cancer. It would be a year before they would pick up anything related to my breast cancer such as mammograms and surgeon and oncologist visits, as well as my monthly prescription for tamoxifen.

It was a long year but, fortunately I had  no health problems related to my cancer.

Hours after the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act, press releases and messages arrived in my email. I will share one that speaks to another coverage safety net provided for in the Affordable Care Act.The following content comes from the Cancer Legal Resource Center (CLRC):

Health Care Reform’s 2014 elimination of lifetime limits and pre-existing condition denials will save countless lives. Jamie Ledezma, a staff attorney at the CLRC, relates her personal story:

As a young 20-something year old, I never dreamt that I’d be in jeopardy of exhausting my employer-provided health benefits, which provided a $1 million lifetime limit. At 27 years old, and 14-weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. In less than a year’s time, I had nearly blown through the $1 million limit on my health insurance. My first surgery came with a $250,000 price-tag and I’d have five more surgeries, 10 months of chemotherapy, and a pregnancy with high-risk doctors and specialists to follow.  Like many cancer survivors, once my treatments ended, I faced a fear of recurrence. Believe it or not, much of my fear and anxiety about a recurrence was whether I could “afford” another round of chemotherapy and surgeries as I was approaching the $1 million lifetime limit. As a 27-year old, new mother battling cancer, my husband and I were teetering on financial ruin if faced with a recurrence. Thankfully, the SCOTUS decision on the Affordable Care Act reassures my family and me that if we are faced with cancer again, my access to care will remain intact.”

The Supreme Court’s decision  means that 30 million Americans will be able to access coverage for the first time. 

Jamie Ledezma and others who are currently insured will be able to get more out of their existing coverage.  In the coming weeks, more information and analysis will be available on the CLRC’s website, www.cancerlegalresourcecenter.org.

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Cartooning Against Cancer

A diagnosis of breast cancer is a major life derailment. It can, and often does, leave us scrambling to deal with treatment and its side effects, work, family and the feelings that come with this dreaded disease.

Sometimes it takes all we have to get through treatment. Each of us needs to find a way, our way, for getting through and getting on with life.

cancer

Kate Matthews, a breast cancer survivor, found her way of getting through the bad days in cartooning. By the time she transitioned from active treatment to being a survivor, she had a book! Here is her story.

 Cartooning Against Cancer

When I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in 2010, like others, I had some very dark days. The lack of information and the difficulty in making treatment choices, the fear, the guilt, the despair – it was pretty awful.  But somewhere along the way, I started thinking something along the lines of “Oh, *#@!! this, while I’m just sitting around, I should do something I want to do.” So I started drawing cartoons.

The first cartoon I drew was of a bald woman at a salon with the stylist applying silly string to her head while saying, “Oh yes Madam, it’s the least expensive option.” (Don’t get me started about wigs!)

cancer

Suddenly, I had a way to cope and it really worked for me all the way through my cancer treatment and beyond.

If I was having a bad day, or an embarrassing experience, if someone was rude or I was feeling invisible, I had this secret weapon to make myself feel better – I could draw a cartoon about it.

There was only one little problem – ugh, I really don’t draw well! After a while, I realized that the cartoons weren’t about art, but instead about expression and humor, so it was OK that they weren’t Van Gogh’s.

Cancer teaches you to take the moment; it gives you permission to do the things you were scared to try before.

After my treatment was over, I collected the cartoons into an eBook called “The Little Pink eBook of (mostly) Cancer Cartoons.”  It’s available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008C5XDJ0.

Now, on top of being a wife, mom and entrepreneur, I’m also an occasional cartoonist. If something strikes me as funny, I’ll do a cartoon. Who knows, maybe someday, I’ll even learn to draw….

I have a website: www.cancercartoons.com and for while I hoped that maybe some other folks would also start cartooning and we could do a fundraising book together. Maybe that will come together and maybe not.

In the meantime, stay strong, be well, and if you feel like it, send me your cartoons.

Visit Kate on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cancercartoons

 

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Chemobrain

chemobrainIn her guest post, AnneMarie Ciccarella shares her life-changing experience with chemobrain. 

AnneMarie was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma in 2006.  She is presently five years post chemotherapy with no evidence of disease. 

Forced to step down from her day-to-day role in management and accounting of two commercial construction firms due to long term and late onset cognitive issues related to her cancer, she presently oversees company management. 

She blogs at www.chemo-brain.blogspot.com and volunteers her time assisting women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.  She is an active volunteer in a number of national breast cancer organizations advocating for meaningful research and for the responsible use of donor money.  She lives on Long Island.

Chemobrain

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it was after my second round of chemotherapy that I had my first brush with what continues to plague me today.  I experienced my very first episode of a “word drop.”

In that very moment, I was officially a member of The Chemobrain Club. Continue Reading »

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The Only Time I Cried

During my years as a navigator, I saw and heard many things that had me close to tears. But, there was only one time when I couldn’t help myself; I lost it. I broke down and cried. I had to excuse myself and leave the chemo infusion room.

IMaking the rounds, from chair to chair, in the infusion center, I stopped to visit with Madeline. She looked frailer than when I saw her the week before. She had an aggressive breast cancer that was at an advanced stage by the time she sought care.

Madeline had been through a lot. A single mom, 36 years old, with a 12 year old daughter, she lost her job several months before her breast cancer diagnosis and couldn’t afford the COBRA payments to maintain her insurance. To make ends meet, Madeline gave up her apartment and she and her daughter moved in with her sister in her one bedroom apartment.

With no insurance, she didn’t seek help for the lump she found in her breast until it began to pain her. She was admitted for care through the emergency department of one of New York City’s public hospitals. She had chemo to shrink the tumor prior to surgery, a mastectomy with no reconstruction, and was now receiving chemo post surgery.

She looked up, as I approached, and gave me a smile that lit up her drawn and tired-looking face. “The free meals delivery service brought me a wonderful surprise today,” she said. “You know, the one you referred me to. They are just great. Not only do they bring me all the meals I need for the week; they feed my daughter as well. The food is delicious!”

I was so relieved to hear that something was working out for her. Getting all the meals that she and her daughter needed, in a given week, not only spared her the need to fix meals, but saved her money she would have had to spend on food. Given her financial situation, this was a critical support.

I asked, “What’s got you all excited about today’s meal delivery? What was the wonderful surprise?”

“Well, she answered, “I’ve been feeling so sick; I forgot today was my birthday. When I opened the meals delivery there it was…a birthday cake! It was just the right size for me and my daughter to share. It said Happy Birthday, Madeline! Not only did they remember it was my birthday; they took the time to put my name on a beautiful little cake.”

That’s when I lost it.

Sometimes, in the midst of suffering and sadness, an act of kindness can cut through the pain and fear and give us a much-needed boost of hope and joy.

 

Note: The meal service referred to in this post is God’s Love We Deliver. This nonprofit organization, located in NYC, has its roots in the days of the AIDS epidemic, when many of those living with AIDS were homebound, unable to shop and feed themselves.

In recent years, God’s Love We Deliver has expanded to encompass those with other diseases, including cancer.

I cannot say enough good things about this organization that consistently provides a quality meals delivery service. Not only do they provide meals, they provide compassion. They go the distance to provide things like birthday cakes to bring a bit of joy to someone at a time when there isn’t much to be joyful about.

You can visit God’s Love We Deliver at  www.godslovewedeliver.orgIt is worth the visit….it is sure to brighten your day!

 

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