We Want to Turn Our Pink Ribbons into Kung Fu Belts

 


Girls Love Mail

see below to find out how this organization reaches out to women fighting breast cancer in the community

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Write a letter for Girls Love Mail! Girls Love Mail collects your hand-written letters of encouragement and gives them to women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. To get started writing letters, review the GLM Quick Start Steps below. We also encourage you to visit www.girlslovemail.com for the full writing guidelines, FAQs, and samples.

GLM QUICK START STEPS

1. Begin your letter with “Dear Friend” or “Dear Sister.” The goal is to be encouraging and let them know someone is thinking of them. Letters are given to recipients regardless of race, religion, age, type of treatment, or cancer stage. Be sure your letter is universally appropriate by refraining from religious references and other non-inclusive wording.

2. Hand-write your letter on any note card, stationery, or paper of your choosing that fits in our special GLM envelope (4.75″ x 6.5″). You can also download free Girls Love Mail stationery.

3.  Mail your letter(s) to:  (Save postage by mailing multiple letters in one envelope.)
Girls Love Mail
     193 Blue Ravine Road, Suite 120
     Folsom, CA 95630


Each month look for the GLM newsletter. You’ll find helpful tips and read uplifting stories from letter recipients. And don’t forget to Share this with your friends and Like Us on Facebook. Together we can someday encourage all 250,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year. All it takes is a handwritten letter from you!

Best,
Gina L Mulligan, Author and Founder

We’re not one to get lost in a crowd of Pink

Don’t get lost. Get your mammogram.

Early detection plays a key role in saving lives by making it easier to treat and cure breast cancer. This is why Komen Austin highly encourages screening through mammograms and clinical breast exams. Unfortunately, we know that barriers to care, such as lack of insurance and access to transportation or services can prevent women from receiving important health services.

Komen Austin recognizes this need and is funding a Mobile Mammography program to provide free screening services to uninsured women. Along with support from the Alliance for African American Health in Central Texas, Community Action, and Seton Healthcare Family, Komen Austin is making sure rural communities that lack medical resources such as Bastrop and Caldwell Counties can access care by bringing services directly to them. So far, we have had four successful screening days in Bastrop and Luling with far more participants than expected!

If you are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity, new screening dates are being planned for November.  Email Marva Overton for more information at: marva.overton@aaahct.org

To schedule an appointment, call (512) 324 – 3375. For those who honor their appointment, a surprise gift will await you!

We hope to see you there!

Be More Than Pink! Donate today at komenaustin.org/race

Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day

 

By: Esther Garza

As you probably know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month but October 13 is specifically designated as National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

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Esther Garza

Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) is the most advanced stage of breast cancer (stage IV) and means that the cancer has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body.  For example, if someone’s breast cancer has spread to their bones, or liver, it’s not bone or liver cancer; it is breast cancer that has metastasized.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, it was discovered to have already spread and I became a part of the metastatic group.  Although there is no cure for MBC, I am one of the very, very few whose cancer has gone into remission and I am now a 10-year “metathriver”.  My medical team will never tell me that I am cured, only that I am in remission and the statistics show that it is just a matter of time before the disease becomes active again. Most people diagnosed with MBC, undergo chemo and/or radiation on a regular basis until their medications are no longer effective.

No one knows why a small percentage of MBC patients are long-term responders but, in an effort to stay as healthy as I can, I try to eat real/whole foods and limit my intake of sugar, grains and packaged/processed foods. Am I 100% successful? No, but I try …super hard. I also try to get regular exercise, and reduce my exposure to toxins such as those in the environment, chemical cleansers, and many body products.  Basically, I do a lot of things the way my grandparents did like cook from scratch, eat vegetables from my garden (or farmer’s market) and use simple DIY household items to clean with. I also draw on my faith to help me cope with my disease and for strength.  I think this lifestyle has helped me but no one really knows for sure. Every MBC patient is unique and experiences vary. I do know that more MBC patients are living longer and there’s a crucial need for more research dollars to find new treatments for Stage IV patients and maybe one day, a cure. MBC patients need aggressive research and action….now. We also need to start educating the public about MBC….now.

When I first approached about joining a MBC support group, I shied away because I thought it would be a sad and depressing group. I couldn’t have been more wrong! The IV League, a support group hosted by the Breast Cancer Resource Center (Austin), is a group of women living to their fullest! Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry, but through it all, we have found strength in our numbers. Not only do we get emotional support from each other, we also learn about the latest treatments, studies and research. I encourage everyone with any type of chronic disease to join a support group. The lessons learned are invaluable.

In an effort to help educate people about MBC, I recently participated in an initiative that was created to promote public understanding of metastatic breast cancer, http://www.storyhalftold.com/  and https://www.facebook.com/storyhalftold   Look for my story to be featured on that site later this month and please feel free to share it! It’s time to stop sweeping the topic of MBC under the rug and time to start talking about it.

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Thank You to Our Volunteers!

By: Suzanne Stone, executive director

On a rainy, muggy Sunday in September you all did something incredible.

You handed out t-shirts, waters, bananas. Cheered on survivors, hung banners and helped people take pictures of their groups. You blew up balloons, petted baby animals, took out trash – all because you believe in the same cause. Because you know that sometimes, PINK isn’t always as pretty as it sounds. Sometimes it takes getting your hands dirty, rolling up your sleeves and hugging a total stranger.

On Sunday you saved lives.  There’s really no doubt about it. However small or big your responsibility may have been, you were a VERY important part of raising $235,896. And we are just getting started! Fundraising is just beginning and we have until November 15th to raise another $360,000 to make sure each and every woman in our 5 county area has access to the breast health services she needs.

Thank you for all you have done.

For all you continue to do and your commitment to Komen Austin.

 With you, we are MORE THAN PINK!

Continue the fundraising. You have until November 15th.

Suzanne Stone

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How to Prevent Hair Loss During Chemotherapy

By: Teresa Green

When I discovered I had breast cancer I became obsessed with keeping my hair. Through digging on the web, I discovered a machine that was not approved by the FDA yet.

Teresa chemo cap

Elastogel Cap, available on Amazon

So I found the next best thing: Elastogel Caps. These caps can be purchased on Amazon or other suppliers. The staff at Texas Oncology and Texas Radiation did not think I would be able to succeed at keeping my hair. The past women several years prior had not had success, either.

I had this one area in my life I tried to control. I became quite upset when I heard of a company out of Dallas that was charging a lot of money to rent out the caps, cooler and instructions. My heart broke knowing that if I could do this on my own then other chemo people would follow with my help and the others after me.

What you will need:

  • One large cooler with wheels and handle.
  • Three blocks of dry ice
  • Six Elastogel caps (purchased here)

Directions:

  • Twenty-four hours prior, purchase the dry ice.
  • Lay the caps in the cooler so that they are frozen for the next day. (Be careful and don’t touch the dry ice with your bare hands).
  • One hour before the chemo infusion, wet your hair and apply the shower cap that is shipped with each cap.
  • Pull the cap on and adjust it with the strap.
  • The caps should be changed every 30 minutes in order to keep your head cold.
  • After the last infusion, please try to continue freezing your head for up to three hours. The chemo has less of a chance to circulate in the scalp area; this is why the hair stays intact. The very crown of your head is your warmest point so this is where you usually see hair loss.
Teresa with surgeon

Teresa Green

You must do this with every infusion.

The nurses at Texas oncology are now familiar with these! Yes you get cold and yes you feel silly but when you are able to look in the mirror regardless of the breast scars or the expanders or the port that may be exposed, having my hair made me more at peace. I felt better about the process, Going through the treatments I just had the most positive outlook, I was extremely grateful this worked and you can do it too! Ask your doctor first!

I Race for My Community

By: Jennifer Felch, Komen Austin Board Member, Survivor

I am honored to become an official part of Komen Austin. I have been around the work of the Komen foundation for several decades – from experiencing the joy my mother felt as she walked with the other survivors in the Race for the Cure in the 90’s, to running in her honor, to running as a survivor with my very own family for the last several years. There is something special about the race and the incredible community it creates among survivors and our friends and family. It is both a celebration of success and a promise of more, as the funds generated from the event help those in our community and the broader goals of ending breast cancer.

While I had participated in the Race for the Cure for many years, it wasn’t until recently that I learned how these funds are put to use in our local community.  We are probably all familiar with the broader research that the Komen Foundation supports, and part of the fundraising goes towards this mission. However, the vast majority stays right here in central Texas.  In fact, 75 percent of the funds are invested in our local community – for education, screening, treatment, follow-up care, among other things.

As many of us know, cancer is not discriminating. It impacts us regardless of our economic situation, insurance coverage or access to quality medical care.  Komen Austin has invested more than $11 million since 1999 in providing breast health services and education in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties. These funds come entirely from fundraising efforts, and the Race for the Cure is the largest contributor. This is why it is so important that we not only participate in the event but that we also raise funds for our community.

I know that many of us are forced to make healthcare decisions based on what we can afford and that we rely on a variety of sources for information, if we have access.  The mission of Komen Austin is to ensure that we are all educated on our risks and what we can do about them, and that we all have access to screening, treatment, and follow up care for ourselves and our families.  It is incredible to see the difference a single organization, Komen Austin, can make on our local community and it is only possible through ongoing fundraising efforts.

5 Things to Remember When You’re Training for Race Day

Congratulations for registering for a 5k! Still haven’t registered for Komen’s 18th Annual Race for the Cure yet? Look no further and visit our website. 

Signing up for any race can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time running. Training in advance guarantees success for your first race. Here are five tips to keep in mind during your training. Good Luck and Go Pink!

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1. Find a community of runners

Running with another person is a great way to hold each other accountable for staying on track with your running schedule. Register with a friend so that you both are working toward a similar goal. Everyone runs at a different pace and trains differently, so make sure to find people that have a similar experience level as you and will keep you motivated throughout your training.

2. Make a plan: look up training schedules, be consistent with your training schedule

If this is your first 5k, it is especially important that you find the right training schedule. Hundreds of schedules are posted online and easy to find. Find one that you and your running buddy can commit to. For beginners, it’s important to start with walks and then gradually add short runs into your program. This will allow you to build your endurance and establish your pace. Print some copies of your running schedule and place it on your refrigerator, office space and bathroom mirror. I really like to have it as my phone screensaver so that my run is always on my mind.

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3. Find the perfect Race day outfit

A good pair of shoes is crucial for training and Race day. If you plan on buying a new pair of kicks, make sure to give yourself at least three weeks to break them in. Find an outfit that incorporates as much pink as possible and that you are comfortable running in. The more pink the better!

4. Make time for rest and cross training

As your body is adjusting to routine runs, it needs time to recover as well. Take advantage of the given rest days in your schedule. It’s also important to make room for other workouts throughout your training. Incorporating additional exercises will build up the muscle strength to prevent any injuries during runs.

Teresa Intern picture

5. Positive thinking

Mental health can be just as important as physical health. During training, practice having a positive mindset throughout your run. When I start to feel the most tired, I visualize crossing the finish line and taking my triumphant picture holding my medal. I also like to think about the reason I am running. For Race for the Cure, I think about the struggle that people have gone through in their lives along with the pain they endured and how the pain of running right now does not compare to what they went through. A positive mindset has been proven to improve performance.

Best of luck on your 5k and thanks for registering to help end breast cancer forever.

Yours truly,

Laura Saker, Komen Austin Communications Intern