Talking About Cancer

"(F)or friends and family it is important to know where our boundaries are - when we should step back, and when we should step in. It's hard to know what is right or wrong - there often just isn't that defining line. It is more a matter of respecting personal space, and understanding that it's all a learning curve."


"Understanding your emotions after a cancer diagnosis can be crucial to moving forward."


"In times of pain, frustration, and anger, sometimes the best medicine is laughter."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Talking About Cancer

Posted by at 8:29 AM

Ribbon of Pink is a great website devoted to helping those diagnosed with cancer find resources, and support. According to their site:

We hope that will become your "information central" - a place to come back to again and again for helpful tips on living healthy (both physically and mentally), advice to help stay cancer free and most of all, encouragement.

For those of us who are diagnosed with cancer it is important to know what we can, or should, expect of ourselves. How much do we need to share with others? Is it okay if I want to be alone? How do I go about the normal every day? And for friends and family it is important to know where our boundaries are - when we should step back, and when we should step in. It's hard to know what is right or wrong - there often just isn't that defining line. It is more a matter of respecting personal space, and understanding that it's all a learning curve.

Ribbon of Pink gives us ten tips for talking about cancer with your friends and family.

  1. Be honest. Don't be afraid to tell the people you love how they can help you. Giving them clear guidelines will let them know exactly what you need from them.

  2. As much as we all would love it if people could read our minds — it's never going to happen. Try not to assume that people know what you need or what the right thing to do is. This goes back to the first tip. Tell people how they can help.

  3. If you're not up for visits from caring friends and family, just say that you appreciate the concern but you would much rather see them when you're feeling better.

  4. Everyone deals with crisis in different ways. Some people are just better than others. For those who don't know what to say or do, try to accept their limitations and remember that they do truly care.

  5. There are going to be times when you just want to unload your feelings. Explaining to someone that you don't expect answers or solutions will help them know what you need and help you express yourself freely.

  6. Coping with the magnitude of breast cancer can put a lot of pressure on your relationships and/or reveal long-standing problems like poor communication and lack of trust, problems that are clearly not caused by cancer. Recognizing this may allow you to let go of old behaviors and focus on the here and now.

  7. Even the most thoughtful family and friends may be impatient for you to "get over" your cancer. Try not to let their expectations pressure you into ignoring your feelings. Breast cancer can be a traumatic experience. Remind them that you have to go through it at your own pace, in your own time.

  8. Getting through breast cancer requires immense strength- emotionally and physically. Give yourself permission to explore ways of enhancing your health and self-esteem. If the "old you" would have never tried yoga- don't let that stop you from trying it now.

  9. Don't be afraid to tap into a support network.

  10. Not talking is always an option. You don't have to divulge anything if you don't want to. If friends and family ask you to talk and you're just not up to it, tell them that you appreciate their concern but you're not ready to talk.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Posted by at 9:35 AM
Obviously there are all kinds of emotions associated with getting a diagnosis of cancer. Most of us can empathize, but unless you're in that situation it is difficult to really understand the feelings a person experiences.
And, it can be frustrating to try to find the words to explain how you're feeling to others.

Cancerbackup writes:

A diagnosis of cancer often means we experience a whole range of emotions. These may include shock, anxiety, sadness, relief, uncertainty and for some people, depression. This section gives information on some of the emotions you may have and aims to help you manage them. It includes suggestions of how you can help yourself as well as other sources of help and support.

On the left side of this page you will see a list of emotions one may experience when dealing with a cancer diagnosis. If nothing else, the coping strategies they discuss may help you through this time...and help you feel understood, and less alone.

This is impossible to do at the best of times - all the time. It's perfectly natural, and normal to feel awful, and depressed. When someone tells you to remain positive all the time, it can be frustrating:

Positive thinking means different things to different people. However, generally it is about facing up to the situation, and finding ways of coping with it. People do this in many ways. What works for one person may not work for another.

When you talk to people with cancer, even the most positive of them will admit to low times when they felt depressed and anxious. No one can be positive 100% of the time. It’s important that you don’t feel that you must always stay on top of things. Being positive doesn’t mean having to feel happy and cheerful all the time. It’s a positive thing to acknowledge and talk about your feelings – even when you’re feeling tired, worried, depressed or angry.
There may be times when you want to talk about a difficult topic like the chance of the cancer being cured or making a will. Comments about being positive are then not always helpful - in fact, they can be very upsetting.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Thank you!

Posted by at 6:53 PM
I see some serious ad clicking going on - thanks!

I'm going to be a little quiet on the website in the next week or so - though I do have an update going up tomorrow.

Please keep visiting, and spread the word on IBC!!!

Anita :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Posted by at 9:39 AM

Without a doubt, laughter is the best medicine. Here are some of the ways in which laughter helps us health-wise:

Hormones: Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins, and neurotransmitters. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.

Physical Release: Have you ever felt like you "have to laugh or I'll cry"? Have you experienced the cleansed feeling after a good laugh? Laughter provides a physical and emotional release.

Internal Workout: A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterward. It even provides a good workout for the heart.

Social Benefits of Laughter: Laughter connects us with others. Also, laughter is contagious, so if you bring more laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you to laugh more, and realize these benefits as well. By elevating the mood of those around you, you can reduce their stress levels, and perhaps improve the quality of social interaction you experience with them, reducing your stress level even more!

(from About)

And speaking of contagious laughter, put together a montage of clips; people laughing in response to other people laughing. They did this, of course, to promote Skype, but also to show how social media works by bringing people together, and sharing in the one human thing we all love to do: laugh.

It's okay to laugh. It's GOOD to laugh. Sometimes laughter really is the best medicine.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Abonita Scarf

Posted by at 7:16 AM

How cool are these scarves? (Read More for video)

From the designer:

Hello, my name is Bonita and I would like to share my story with you. After being diagnosed with invasive lobular breast cancer in December 2003 and undergoing chemotherapy, I lost all of my hair. My active lifestyle and flair for fashion made uncomfortable wigs and hats impractical. Eager to feel chic and beautiful again, I wanted to design a stylish and versatile accessory, inspired by the elegant look of colorful and fashionable head scarves many women in Hollywood had been wearing, that would provide women with a beautiful alternative during a difficult time. I knew that when I recovered I had to share my creation with women everywhere who were feeling what I had felt. With the help of my longtime friend Lori, ABonita Scarves® were created in an array of colors and patterns and designed to be worn four different ways. Today I am thrilled to say that I am healthy and happy!

I'm all for buying one, but I wonder how difficult they would be to make?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Posted by at 11:15 AM
Hi everyone.

Just a reminder to watch the ads, and click through. Revenue is generated when readers click on links. Not a lot so far (about $11, to be honest), but every click helps. I'll be adding other ad material other than content-related ads so that it's more well-rounded. As the webmaster I don't believe I'm really allowed "ethically" to click on ads - but nothing's stopping you!


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Think Pink Photography

Posted by at 1:46 PM

Think Pink Photography is an amazing site/service. According to the site:

Think Pink Photography is a charitable organization supporting individuals and their families who have been touched by breast cancer. Our world-wide network of photographers has joined together for two main purposes - celebrating life and supporting the cause. We are celebrating life through charitable photography sessions for survivors and their supporters. Think Pink Photography is supporting the cause through donations and various fundraising efforts.

The blog presents photographs taken of individuals and families affected by breast cancer at no charge - as well as a little about who they are. There is also a list of participating photographers. If there isn't one in your area, they recommend contacting your favourite photog. and asking them to become a part of this very special network of professionals.

Once you've located a participating photographer:

Any individual that has been diagnosed with breast cancer or completed treatment within the past 12 months qualifies for a Think Pink Session. Sessions are available to document the fight before or during treatment or to celebrate the victory when treatment is completed. Clients will receive a complimentary session, (20) small prints, and a discount off additional print orders.

According to the About page, the funds that are generated through fundraising and donations are given to the Eric R. Beverly Family Foundation:

As a 3-time breast cancer survivor, Danielle Beverly and her husband Eric joined together to form a foundation dedicated to promoting education, increasing awareness, and providing support and resources for families who have been touched by breast cancer.

There are two ways for people to support this artistic endeavor. First, you can make a donation, or you can partner with a photographer. Simply book your own (paid) photography session (school photos, family photos, special occassion photos, or "just because") with one of the photographers in the network (and remember - if your favourite photographer is not yet in the network, encourage her/him to do so!) and they will make a donation to the The Eric R. Beverly Family Foundation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Guide for Newly Diagnosed

Posted by at 8:48 AM
Fight Pink has included a link to a pdf document that was developed by a non-profit group called Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC). The guide was written with women who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer in mind.

The guide is divided into six sections focusing on coping with the news, information you need immediately, treatment basics, support to get you through tomorrow, moving toward the future and resources for finding additional information and support. Interspersed are lists you can use to talk with those who care for you, including “10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Treatment,” “10 Common Feelings and Fears at Diagnosis,” “10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Pathology Report” and “10 Tips on Getting Good Support.”

Find the pdf guide on this page, or by clicking here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Café Press Items

Posted by at 9:22 AM
I have found a wonderful (and Canadian!) graphic artist who is willing to donate her time and services to designing something that will go up on Café Press within the next week or so. Items for sale will include t-shirts, sweatshirts, and mugs, etc.

All proceeds of the sales will go directly to Sherri, Brianna, and Isaiah. Please be generous.

The design will encorporate the nature of IBC, and the importance of talking about it with our friends and family. So, even if you don't know Sherri, or don't know her well, the merchandise will serve to inform and educate.

IBC does not discriminate.

Posted by at 8:34 AM
Women living and coping with IBC come from all walks of life. Take, for example the blogger named "Why Mommy" who describes her blog this way:

Welcome to my world, Toddler Planet. I'm WhyMommy, just your average everyday cancer survivor/astrophysicist/mom, learning my way through each day with two beautiful, happy little boys (Widget, born 8-04 and Little Bear, born 1-07). You can also find me at Women in Planetary Science Blog, Mothers With Cancer, Review Planet, Twitter, or the playground.

This blogger was diagnosed with IBC in June 2007, and has done quite a lot of work advocating on behalf of women (including herself) with IBC. If you follow this link, you'll be sent to all kinds of places on the net where she has spread the message "know yourself." All women need to be familiar with how their bodies feel "normally," and be aware of any changes.

Furthermore, she provides readers with a list of ideas on what to do to help someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Loads of ideas there!

WhyMommy posts the following on her site, and encourages bloggers to share the post anywhere they can.

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain,
soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

If you have a blog, please post the above few paragraphs. WhyMommy will link back to your blog if you do. Extra traffic is good for you, and spreads the word. Good news for everyone! :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Peggy: Stage IV Survivor

Posted by at 1:37 PM
The Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation has some very good information about IBC.

Today's positive story is about Peggy, a survivor of Stage 4 IBC. Peggy has been doing well since her diagnosis in 1999. Read about her experiences from diagnosis, to early treatment, to today. Peggy states that "looking back, I find that the hardest time of this entire journey so far was the time between diagnosis through the first few months of chemo."

It was November 1999, about three weeks after I had a mammogram that showed absolutely nothing, when my right breast started to swell and to develop an angry-looking rash. I preferred to ignore it, thinking it would go away. Afterall, I had a great job and everything to look forward to. I had recently turned 50 and felt wonderful. My older son had begun college and my younger one was in high school, so they were becoming more independent. I could take classes,participate in our church choir, and do many things that I had waited to do till I wasn’t needed in “Mommy Mode” quite so much.

Read more about Peggy's experience.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Heidi Marble: Survivor of IBC

Posted by at 12:26 PM

Artist Heidi Marble knows first hand the pain and challenges associated with Inflammatory Breast Cancer:

Sacrifice is something Heidi Marble is qualified to write about. Six years ago, she was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer. Today, she has overcome the disease and is sharing her experience through poetry and photographs."I think my purpose is to raise my voice for those people who have already gone on," she said.
Heidi has a web site that includes links to resources, as well as information about her book "Waiting for Wings," in which she describes her experience with IBC through imagery and poetry.

Please also be sure to watch the video on her personal journey, as well as learn more about the documentary.


Posted by at 10:45 AM
This site is dedicated to a family member we all love: Sherri.

A couple of months ago Sherri learned that she has Inflammatory Breast Cancer. IBC is not like any other breast cancer in that a) it is fairly aggressive, and b) mammograms do not ordinarily pick up the disease because of the way it presents itself (as a "nest" rather than lumps).

Sherri is a 38 year old single mother and has 2 children under the age of 16. This has been quite a shock for her, and by association - her friends and family.

It is our goal to raise as much awareness for IBC as possible while raising money for Sherri during this difficult time. On the right hand side you will see a link to donate. All money will go directly to Sherri.

In addition, you will see Google Ads at the bottom of the right hand side. Every time you click on a link, the site adds up the clicks which translates into further funds for the cause.

I will be adding new links, information, and stories regularly. Should you have any questions, please comment here, or email the webmaster at

For now, until the website becomes much more developed, educate yourself by visiting the IBC Research Foundation.

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