Facing forward after a cancer diagnosis

Life is a compilation of exciting and shocking moments. No matter how off putting the situation, your actions through each segment of time define who you are as an individual. Sometimes there are situations that are so extraordinary, both good and bad, you might be rendered dazed and uncertain. In these events, it can be difficult to do anything or even to move forward.

Certain situations, like receiving a cancer diagnosis, can be debilitating. Any idea of how to progress seems obscured in a haze of confusion. In that moment of uncertainty and fear, affirm to yourself that you are loved, you are capable, and you can do this. Affirm to yourself that your strength is what has been carrying you through your entire life, and your strength is marvelous.

In times of distress, believe in your resilience and reach out to others for a support system. There are countless people here to help, just ask. Trust your incredible self; trust your ability to persevere.

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Make a #KomenPromise

This season Komen Austin is asking everyone to stand up to breast cancer by making a promise to help their loved ones who suffer from the disease. We are asking everyone to stand in solidarity with the 1 in 8 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes by showing support, even if it is through something small.

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#KomenPromise could range from things such as pledging to take your sister to the doctor for treatment each time or just being there to show another loved one that you can help them in times of emotional stress.

#KomenPromise is about showing those whom we care so deeply about that they matter. It’s about showing our loved ones that we will be standing right next to them to recovery and beyond.

Make a #KomenPromise . Do it for the 1 in 8.

 

 

 

Pink Tie Guys: Using their local fame for good

An elite group of Austin men have decided to use their local celebrity status for good to promote breast cancer awareness and raise money for Susan G. Komen Austin.

After seeing how the disease adversely affects women world-wide, these men became Pink Tie Guys in order to join the cause to stop breast cancer once and for all.

All of this week, the Pink Tie Guys will be competing against each other to raise a total of $30,000 for women in need of cancer treatment. They will all be posting links to donate to Susan G. Komen on their social media profiles throughout the week. So, pick your favorite guy in a pink tie and donate for the Cure!

You can click here to donate and find the list of our guys in Pink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be More Than Pink: Apply for Community Grants

 

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Be More Than Pink click here

How to Apply for Community Grants

Thank you for your interest in the Susan G. Komen® Austin grant program. Grants for 2017-2018 grant year funding will be accepted in the Fall 2016.

Through community health care grantees, Susan G. Komen Austin funding makes critical breast health services accessible to uninsured and underinsured women and men in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties.

***To be eligible to apply for a grant, your organization must be a federally tax-exempt entity – nonprofit organization, government agency, educational institution or Indian tribe. The organization must also be in our five county service area.

Click here for the 2017-2018 Request for Applications, this year’s application will be available starting on Nov. 1, 2016.

Grant Writing Workshop October 7, 2016
Application Available on GEMS November 1, 2016
Application Deadline December 5, 2016 at 3 p.m.
Award Notification February 23, 2017
Award Period April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018
Mid-year Progress Report October 27, 2017
Final Report Due May 11, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My battle with breast cancer and finding my Daily Greens

By: Shauna Martin

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Shauna Martin, Daily Greens CEO

I vividly recall sitting on the floor of my shower with water and tears streaming down my face trying to figure it all out. I could not stop thinking . . . why? Why me? What did I do wrong? On July 28, 2005, my son’s first birthday, I had been diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of thirty-three.  My life was flashing before my eyes, as I struggled with the question of whether I was ready to die or not.

It did not take me long to conclude, that I was in fact not ready to die. 

I had a young child to live for! I knew I had to muster the strength to get out of the shower and take care of my family, but 9 months of chemotherapy and a year of surgeries to first remove my breasts and then reconstruct them had left me weak, bald and hopeless.  After all that I had been through my doctors told me I still had up to a 40% chance of a recurrence. I thought, how could that possibly be, after everything I had done to fight my cancer over the past two years?  I knew one thing for sure, I had to stay alive for my son, so I resolved to get up off the shower floor and do something about it.


I had heard that food could have powerful healing attributes, so I decided to investigate. I read everything I could get my hands on, and my journey lead me to understand that a plant-based diet filled with raw vegetables could not only help detox my body from all the toxins from my breast cancer treatment, but it could also potentially prevent a recurrence of my breast cancer. I was so excited to finally find something that would be under my control, so I went for it.

I read that the most efficient way to consume raw veggies was to juice them, so I ordered my first juicer and started making a green juice every day. The effects were immediate and undeniable. I immediately started to regain my energy and my former stamina. My hair grew back quickly, my skin and eyes started to glow.  I was blown away, so I studied further and determined that the right thing for me was to move to a fully plant-based diet.  This took several years of slowly eliminating animal protein from my diet, but when I finally got there the result was amazing. I am still fully vegan and plant based, 10 years later, and it enables me to be the best version of myself each and every day.

I was so enthusiastic about my newfound fountain of youth that I could not contain myself and started to evangelize my friends and family about the benefits of drinking a daily green juice and eating a more plant-based diet.  I had many converts over the years, but after several months most would put away their juicer and conclude that it was just too difficult to do on a daily basis.  I realized that if I was going to get folks to stick to a regime of drinking a daily green juice I was going to have to make it for them.

So after practicing corporate law for 18 years, I set out to research the technology needed to produce cold-pressed green juice on a massive scale. My mission and vision was to get a green juice into the hands of every American every single day.


At midnight one Friday night in December 2012 I made 60 bottles of green juice with the help of my cousin, and early the next morning I took it to the farmer’s market. It was a massive hit, and Daily Greens was born. Today, just 3 and a half years later, Daily Greens is nationally distributed in over 3,000 retail outlets in not only Whole Foods, Costco, Safeway, Kroger’s, Sprouts, but in dozens of other regional and independent retailers as well.

Shauna with juiceWhile I am so proud of everything that Daily Greens has accomplished, I am not about to forget my roots and the struggle that lead me to this place. Since inception, Daily Greens has donated 1% percent of sales directly to organizations like Komen Austin that provide support and services to young women battling breast cancer.

Eleven years later, I now know the answer to the “Why?”

I was meant to go on my breast cancer journey and struggle so that I could help bring a message of health and hope to America!

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.

The Importance of Men’s Health

By: Paul Carrozza

Men’s Health. What does it mean anyway?  I have been an athlete and runner my entire life.  Does that make me healthy? Well, that’s not the only measurement of good health. I have been working on my health my entire life. I take vitamins, eat organic foods, stay away from processed foods, and avoid fried foods.  As I have aged, my food choices have continued to change.  I eat less sugar, less dairy, less red meat, less white meat. With these changes, I feel better and better. So, I do more than just run for fun and exercise.

Being healthy is being without disease… Disease is just that…Dis… Ease…  Annual Check-ups can eliminate or identify the “diseases” that need to be addressed. If you are clear of no disease, and little else is bothering you, are you still healthy?

On the surface, I say if you are at your ideal body weight, have normal bone density, normal blood pressure, no depression, good cholesterol levels, good muscle mass, no tightness, and are in good enough condition to to out and enjoy the recreational activities you love, then you are probably pretty healthy.

What keeps us from being healthy or in optimum health? It’s the modern lifestyle we live!  No physical activity, minimal time in the sun, minimal time in nature, minimal sweating, passive transportation, too many processed foods, weak and tight muscles, we’re overweight, deconditioned from heat, sun and strenuous activity.  So what’s the outcome of this modern, unhealthy lifestyle?  Disease.  Or, Dis…Ease.

Other things that contribute to your Dis…Ease are low testosterone levels, low self-esteem or just not feeling great about yourself. Being stuck in a rut – the same old thing every day, and you aren’t sure how to get out of it.  Believe it or not, exercise isn’t the answer for everyone.

The answer to good health is finding things that you are passionate doing and preparing for them. The annual climb to a fourteener in Colorado, hiking the Grand Canyon, running a marathon, doing a triathlon, playing in a recreation sports league, or finding a professional coach or trainer to assist you with your passion.  Or, maybe join a team of others who share your passion, and head out on the journey of a lifetime to optimum health.

So, discover the one thing that you would love to do. The one thing you can be passionate about and get yourself out and DO IT! One way to discover what you like to do is to remember what you did with your free time when you were five, seven or ten years old. Maybe those years bring back activities you enjoyed.

My advice for good men’s health is to live life through motion and in the great outdoors. When you find your weekend passion, your days and weeks will have purpose and you will find a path to good health that fits your own passion and lifestyle.


The most common sign of breast cancer in men is a painless lump or thickening in the breast or chest area.  This Father’s Day, talk to the men in your lives about the importance of taking care of their health.

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Paul Carrozza

Paul Carrozza, an Austin running specialist, has coached thousands of runners, non-profit organizations and entrepreneurs over the years. He is most proud of RunTex, being a place where people could come together to achieve their goals.

Paul is committed to developing superior programs and events that contribute to the economic growth in the community and help increase the quality of life in the greater Austin area. The Austin Running Community is a testament to Paul’s passion for providing access for healthy living to the entire community.

Paul is co-founder of the Marathon Kids Program, which successfully helps over 500,000 children per year learn the joy of running. He served two terms on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports during the George W. Bush Administration, is the Co-Chair for the Governor’s Advisory Council on Physical Activity, the Co-Founder and former Chair of the Austin Mayor’s Fitness Council, served on the EMS Board, Texas Medical Board District Review Committee, and he is the founder of Shoes For Austin.

Paul is the Cross Country and Track Coach at St. Stephen’s School and the Interim Executive Director of Boneshaker Project.  He coaches small groups from middle school to mature adults who want to have their mind, body and spirit prepared for a full active, purposeful life.

Life As A Co-Survivor

A co-survivor can be anyone who is there for a breast cancer patient through their diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Some examples of co-survivors include: family, friends, spouses, partners, children or co-workers. Remember that as as a co-survivor need support too! Sometimes watching a loved one battling breast cancer is just as scary as going through it yourself. Visit komen.org/cosurvivor to learn more about how you can be there for a loved one during their time of need. The more you know, the more you can help!


By: Nicole Bozek
May 2016

When I was a kid I used to think that one day I would eventually lose my hair. That one day I would have to wear a wig before I go out in public. That when I was an adult, I would get a big girl bra with my own silicone breast form so the world would never know I only had one breast.

Breast cancer interweaves itself in and out of my childhood memories. I don’t vividly remember the day my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. In fact, I was only four when it happened. Some days I see in my thoughts my mom cheerfully waiting for me on the front school steps where would we walk back home, holding hands, singing songs and picking flowers on our way home. Days where we would walk on the beach, picking up seashells, chasing seagulls and eating ice cream on the pier. Those are the fun memories.

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Nicole, her mom and brother.

Other times, I recall the distant memories of my brother, family friends or even neighbors picking me up from school. Each day someone different with a new routine. At home I would find my mom lying in bed, her face more tired, pale and less mom-like then I remembered. I recall wanting her to play with me, to run around and pick flowers in the neighborhood. She was too tired to play. Those days I remember missing the fun mom.

I grew up watching my mom brushing and adjusting her wigs to look just right. I still recall the intense questioning I had as I inspected and prodded the silicone breast form when my mom wasn’t looking. I remember watching my mom struggle to make the breast form sit properly in her bra.

“Breast cancer will always be a part of our stories.”

This year marks the 23rd year anniversary of my mom being a breast cancer survivor. Her brush with cancer over two decades ago has not only shaped her life, but mine as well. Breast cancer will always be a part of our stories. All I have ever known is what it’s like to grow up with my mom having one breast.

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Nicole and her mom.

#IAmKomenAustin – My Life With Cancer

By: Diane Castillo 

I have always participated in different events that raise money for those with cancer. Cancer runs in both sides of the family. It’s a small world when you tell someone you have cancer.I found out my paternal grandmother had breast cancer and had to get a double mastectomy. She tends not to tell people of what illness she is dealing with. She’s a very strong woman and is now in remission. My paternal grandfather passed away of brain cancer, it will be 18 years he has been gone. I miss his laughter, smiles and hugs. My mother passed away from breast cancer and double lung pneumonia, it’s been 22 years she has been gone. I also found out my maternal aunt also had breast cancer, she is in remission.

I won’t forget when I told family members I had cancer. Some just said, “ok” or “I’m sorry,” and that was the last I heard from them. My only family support is my paternal grandmother. Other support I get are from less than a handful of friends and from a BRBC nurse navigator named Jessica Garrison. I met her when I was getting treatment at Brack’s Shivers Cancer Center, we still stay in touch with one another.

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Photo of Diane Castillo

I didn’t know what to expect from treatment,  before, during and after. I went online to gather as much information as I could. At first, it seemed overwhelming. I took notes in how to pack a chemo bag. I learned to have items in it to keep me busy during chemo and packed healthy snacks.

One of the websites I stumbled on was the Susan G. Komen® website through Facebook. Everyday, I would read, take notes and print any information I wanted to understand more. When I would go to chemo, I was alone. My paternal grandmother did her chemo alone. I figure if she could do it, so could I. While in chemo, I would read more on staying healthy while going through chemo, read positive quotes and read more on make up. I didn’t know that besides hair loss on your head, you can lose your eyebrows and eyelashes. Putting fake eyelashes on is not a easy task. I also lightly “painted” my eyebrows with eyebrow powder,  I can say I can do eyebrows like a pro. Many would think make up is the least worry of a cancer patient, for me, the normal was fixing my hair and face every morning.

I wanted to still have that same “normalcy.”

I also purchased several wigs when I could. I enjoyed looking different with the wigs. Everyday was a wig day. I wore wigs when I left the house. Otherwise, I wore pretty bandanas. Bandanas that I bought more than ten years ago at WalMart for 25 cents as they were on sale, who knew I was going to use them!

Finding out I have cancer has changed my life. The old saying, “you don’t know you have strength until you are at your weakest.”

My weakness was not knowing what happens with cancer. I decided I needed to educate myself. With the knowledge I found I realized I’m stronger than before.
Sadly, while dealing with cancer I became distance from friends and family members but not of my fault. I realize those who love you will be there for you no matter what. Instead of being seen as a loving humorous person I was being seen as STRIKEN WITH CANCER.

I’m not cancer and cancer isn’t me.

I’m still that same loving and humorous person. Besides taking care of myself, I have a young daughter. I won’t forget when I told her I have breast cancer. Out of her mouth she said, “we WILL beat cancer together.” I bawled my eyes out. My tween created a group in school with the school counselor for students, who have parents who passed away and those who had became victims of cancer. I asked my tween what made her create the group, she said she noticed too many classmates losing their parents to cancer and other chronic illnesses. The classmates came to school looking hurt and confused. She would talk to them and promise not to tell anyone of their private conversations.  It not only helped those students but helped her as well. I’m the only surviving parent. I lost my husband seven years ago due to a chronic heart illness.

Even in death and in life the world still turns. We are in charge of our lives and we make life what it is. I decided that I still enjoy being an advocate and volunteering in different organizations. It feels good to give back to the community.

I can not wait to kick cancer to the curb. I’m ready to live a more healthier life without cancer!