Stop with the pinkwashing.

Every year I get more and more frustrated by the pink washing. Once again I’m reposting my PSA below (with a few slight updates).

When I wrote this 3 years ago, I had lost 2 friends to MBC and was worried about 5 more. Of the five I was worried about, only 1 is still alive. I hope that is a sobering statistic for you. I want you to feel the shock value of that statement. In their wake they have left small children, partners, siblings and parents and their own personal hopes, dreams and lives. They were freaking robbed. Its GD insane to me. Stop buying pink shit and please donate to causes that matter. Of course I’m biased, but who better to get your information from? So, here is my annual pinktober post. I hope it’s reaching a new audience this year.

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It’s that time of year again. Thought I’d throw a little information your way to help you navigate all of the pink washing that’s a’comin’

1 in 8 women will get breast cancer and 1 in 1000 men (Beyonce’s dad just announced that he was treated for breast cancer…). 30% of those initially diagnosed with early stage disease will go on to become metastatic (aka Stage IV). 4% of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients are Stage IV at initial diagnosis. 113 people die from Stage IV metastatic breast cancer (MBC) each day in the US. There is no cure for Stage IV and only 2-5% of research funding goes to MBC.

What we need is to find a cure for this disease. We don’t need pink mugs, pink scarves and/or pink ribbon keychains.

While some women live for years with Stage IV disease, others do not. Their collective voices aren’t always able to be strong as they’re enduring treatment while simultaneously trying to live life.

It’s up to US to make their voices heard. To demand money be directed toward finding a cure and supporting actual individuals living with metastatic disease.

This year I’ve lost 2 friends to MBC, and their deaths should mean something. I have another 5 friends who are living with MBC and I fear 2 of them will die before long. This is scary and so sad.

Please do me (and every other person you know who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer) a favor, and don’t get sucked into the pink washing. Please ask where the funds for pink products are going. Please research those organizations to see if any of that money actually goes toward patients or research.

I’ll make it easy for you. Below is a list of 4 organizations I think you should give your money and time to, if you’re so inclined. Just skip the rest of the noise….

Breast Cancer Action
Breast Cancer Action is not your average breast cancer organization. We’re fiercely independent and refuse corporate funding from any company that profits from or contributes to breast cancer. That means we can ALWAYS put women’s health first.

We’re focused on achieving health justice for all women living with and at risk of breast cancer. Radical and compassionate, we never shy away from the hard truths. We tell it like it is about breast cancer: 40,000 women die of this devastating disease every year, and we don’t have nearly enough to show for the billions of dollars raised in the name of breast cancer.

BCAction was founded in 1990 by a handful of women who were living with and dying from breast cancer and who demanded answers about their disease. Today, BCAction is a national grassroots organization with members across the country. Together we’re challenging the status quo and working to address and end the breast cancer epidemic.

Metavivor
METAvivor is the only organization in the US that exclusively funds MBC research through a scientific peer-review process. We award research grants to individuals with a clinical or other doctoral degree who are actively engaged in areas of metastatic breast cancer research, and whose proposals show distinct promise in making a difference for the stage 4 breast cancer community.

Our mission is to transition metastatic breast cancer from a terminal diagnosis to a chronic, manageable disease with a decent quality of life.

100% of proceeds from every fundraiser (after event expenses) goes into our research grants.

Breast Cancer Prevention Partners
A science-based advocacy organization that works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation.

BAYS
Bay Area Young Survivors (BAYS) is a support and action group for young women in the SF Bay Area who are living with breast cancer.

Through monthly support group meetings, an online network, and community-building events, BAYS members share information, experiences, and resources. Our goal is to break the isolation of living with breast cancer by providing a community built on compassion, understanding, hope, and inspiration.

“What’s up y’all, what’s it gonna be? Who’s on the line for your homie Al B.?”

Anyone? Test 1,2 – is this mic on? Who gets my title reference? My east coast peeps? My Bucknell peeps? Link HERE if you don’t get it!

OK – so: “What’s up y’all, what’s it gonna be? Who’s on the line for your homie Al B.?”

Hey Al B., my name is Andy
Please sit back and check this rhyme…
The worldwide recall of my implants
Made me feel crazy in the head
So I talked to Roy – my boy
And we’re gonna swap that shit out
October 21st is the day
2 weeks to recover is what he says
The new implants will be round and smooth
But they aren’t anatomically shaped
So we’ll do a lot of fat grafting
To try and make them look normal
I’ll probably look like a porn star at the end of the day
But at least I’ll have peace of mind
That the new implants (probably) won’t lead to another cancer

Harumpf. I don’t think I’m the next Eminem….

 

Go F Yourself Foobs!

Hello my friends! It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? I’m blogging from a darkish/panicked place so please indulge me…(I’ll post some kiddos pics below for proof of life!)

So in yet another wonderful turn of events – there’s been a worldwide recall on the implants I’ve had in my body for 6 years. Yep, the FDA and the implant manufacturer finally are recognizing the statistics that we’ve all been hearing about for years. Women are getting lymphoma due to their textured implants. For a long time, the US refused to link causation to the implants (while Europe did). The chances of this happening are actually quite slim – but anything over 0 is too much for me.

Feel free to read up more on it HERE. Here’s the spot Good Morning America did on it.

What’s super messed up is that most folks who have these implants and spacers are breast cancer patients/survivors. We’re not talking about the general population who had elective cosmetic surgery. We’re talking about those of us who’ve had reconstructive surgery post cancer.

A year and a half ago, I’d had some stomach fat lippo’d out and placed on top of my foobs to fill in the weird plastic gaps that were visible to the naked eye. Vein? Yes 100% and I won’t apologize for it. I was 5 years out, 2 babies out and just feeling good in my skin. I wanted to treat myself and help myself with the body issues I was feeling. So I won’t apologize.

While the surgery went well and the recovery was tough but unremarkable – a few months later I came down with this infection. It has to be attributable to the surgery b/c there’s literally nothing else that could’ve caused it. Sure it’s rare to have an infection 4 months post op — but it’s me we’re talking about – so all bets are off! haha!

No, but in all seriousness, this is exactly what the recall is for. The implants I have – have a textured, bumpy outside shell. Those small divets and bumps are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to latch onto. During the fat grafting – bacteria was introduced into the pocket. It set up shop and turned into a full blown infection a few months later.

As you know, that particular foob issue was resolved with heavy doses of antibiotics. I didn’t need to remove the implant. Everyone (including me) felt happy about that outcome.

Fast forward to today – I’m feeling a crazy amount of swelling, tightness, thickness and other discomfort with my left (cancer side) foob. Who knows what the genesis may be (PTSD vs. something real?). But the most messed up thing is that I don’t want to know. I don’t want to stop my life and trajectory I’m on for a massive surgery and recovery. I just want to be normal. To feel normal.

But I guess that’s not in the cards for me. So in the coming days/weeks – I’ll reach out to my plastic surgeon and start the discussion of what’s next. I’m pretty sure it’s not lymphoma – but I’m pretty sure my body and mind are rejecting these implants. So I think I need to seriously consider my path if they need to come out.

Tomorrow I’ll call Dr Hong….

Also, if you made it this far in the post – prepare yourself for a reward of kiddo pics! You earned it!

 

Soft Tissue Cellulitis

Met with Dr. Hong again today and he thinks I had soft tissue cellulitis. Which is a fancy way of saying I had a bacterial skin infection. I’ll finish this 10 day course of antibiotics and see how it goes. I may need to be on meds a little longer — but we’re hopeful 10 days will be plenty.

My foob is only a tiny bit swollen and angry now. Dr. Hong said it may take a couple weeks for it to feel completely “normal” again.

I’ll take that over surgery any ‘old day.

Thank you universe for cutting me a break this time. I owe you one!

Day 5

Just a quick note to let you know I’m doing way better. I haven’t had a fever since Friday night and the foob is still responding to antibiotics!

I’ll drive down to Palo Alto to see Dr. Hong on Tuesday and we’ll make a decision on next steps.

Starting to become hopeful I won’t need surgery 🤞🏼

Thank you all for your calls, messages and texts. They mean the world to me!

Alrighty, more in a few days.

Xo

Update

We arrived at the surgicenter around noon. Dr. Hong popped out of his surgery to take a look at me. He agreed that I’d had a very good response to the antibiotics.

He said he couldn’t, in good conscience, put me under general and remove the implant without giving it a bit more time to see how it responds.

So we drove back up to the city and I’m back at the ER. I’ve asked to receive another IV shot of the antibiotics from last night (Did you hear the one about the Indian girl who waltzed back into the ER demanding what her treatment be?…..)

Anyway, I’m here and hope it’s not an uphill battle to get the shot. Dr Hong said they can call him to talk to him if it comes to that (I’m sure it will!)

Then, the plan is to stay in constant touch with Dr. Hong. If things go sideways at all, he’ll meet me at the surgicenter and remove the implant. Even over the weekend, if necessary.

I’m definitely still in pain and will stay hyper aware of my foob until this reaches a conclusion one way or the other.

But I’m super happy my health is good enough that we can give this a day or two to see if we can save the implant.

Sorry for the roller coaster ride — this is just my crazy life!

Are you there God, it’s me Andrea

I’m hesitant to post this one. It’s been a long while. I used to post about everything, then somehow it turned into just posts about the good and the bad. Not the in between. Trust me, life’s been a lot of “just the in-between” lately. Just normal life with normal issues.

I know a lot of readers out there are fellow TNBC’rs and look to my blog as a sense of hope. I hope my latest set back doesn’t deter or scare you — just shows you that everyone’s road is different — and complicated…..

Just the facts ma’am:

10 days ago I came down with a low-grade fever of unknown origin. It came complete with teeth chattering chills.  After a day and half and lots of Tylenol and rest, I seemed to be back to normal. Whether or not I was, I just went back to living life normally!

A few days later I could tell I had another low grade fever, but didn’t bother to take my temp. Just went to bed early and got rest. All seemed fine in the morning. So, on with life I went.

Then, on Wednesday afternoon my chest wall next to my right foob was incredibly painful. Trust me, I experience some level of pain and discomfort on the daily with my implants — but I’m used to it now.

This pain was different. Was real. Was intense. Was new. By evening, I could tell I had another full blown fever – but had to put Nora to bed. After she was down I hopped in the shower to warm myself up and noticed that my right foob was slightly swollen, warm to the touch (which is very unusual for reconstructed breasts — they’re normally cool and clay to the touch) and there was a visible redness along the side.

I decided I needed to see a doctor the next day. Garrett got me in at 1:30 and confirmed that something was going on – by then my right foob was visibly larger than the left. He prescribed antibiotics and said if I’m not feeling any better right away to call him and we’d take next steps. He also mentioned that some folks like to involve their plastic surgeons in discussions since an implant is such special property.

As I left G’ office I called my plastic surgeon, Roy Hong. He texted me back asking for pictures.

I obliged.

He called me 30 mins later telling me to go to the ER and have the on-call doctor call him.

After I got Nora home from school. I uber’d to the ER. After a chest X-ray and breast ultrasound, I received a high dose IV push of an antibiotic called DAPTOmycin. That medicine will cover me for 24 hours so that I can go down to Los Altos this afternoon to see my surgeon. (I also took Levofloxacin when I got home from the ER and again this morning.)

It appears that there’s fluid in the capsule surrounding my implant which is causing an infection. There’s no way to fix this issue other than complete implant removal. The pocket will remain empty as it heals for at least 3 months. If all looks good, I’ll have a spacer placed back into the pocket and we’ll start stretching the skin that will have inevitably shrunk over 3 months. It’ll take another 3 months to stretch my skin. If all looks good at that point, I’ll do a swap out of the spacer for a new gen implant and I’ll remove and replace the left implant with a matching new gen implant.

So basically, a shitty 6 months with one fake boob and one nothing, flat side.

I will say that this morning I woke up and had a good response to the antibiotics. The swelling and redness have subsided slightly, but it’s definitely not fixed altogether. Dr. Hong called me at 7am and asked how I was doing. I reported this positive news to him. He said, he’d keep an open mind and maybe my good response to the medicine could buy me a couple days to wait and see before surgery. His main concern is what happens after the antibiotics are done. Will I be up shits creek again? This came on so damn fast it’s scary. I went from normal to in the ER being tested for sepsis within one day.

I suspect he was just being kind this morning when we talked. If there’s fluid in the capsule, he’s already told me in no uncertain terms there’s no cure for it other than removal. And my U/S showed fluid.

So I mentally prepared for surgery. I’ve taken a shower, shaved my legs, put some make-up on (look good to feel good, right) and said extra long goodbyes to the kiddos.

Paul and I are off to Los Altos now. Dr. Hong is booked with pre-existing surgeries but I’ll be seeing his right hand man. I confirmed this isn’t the guys first solo surgery and that he does indeed know what he’s doing ;)!!!! Dr. Hong will be in the OR next door and will see me in-between surgeries to confirm our decision to go ahead or wait and see. (My gut is telling me, we’re a go for removal)

As fucking shitty as this is. And is much as it leaves me asking “why me?” and “I was *just* getting comfortable in this new body and getting my confidence back — why now?” I’m forcing myself to look on the bright side — I’m not being told its lymphoma of the implant, a recurrence or mets. So I’m forever grateful for that.

See you on the other side!

xoxo

Me this am, all “are you F’ing kidding me with this?”

Pic of me just now — I’m all “are you F’ing kidding me with this?” Got my post op button up on. This ain’t my first rodeo….