Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Chance to Give Back!

There have been several organizations that have been irreplaceable during my BRCA journey, including the BRCA Sisterhood (on Facebook), the Young Breast Cancer Survivor Group at my hospital and the FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) organization (http://www.facingourrisk.org/). FORCE is an organization that has been very helpful to me and my family during our BRCA journey. The FORCE community gives people a place to share and get support and information on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. It is a community where others understand what you or your loved ones are going through. I have found it extremely helpful to learn more about what other women have been through and found it useful in preparing myself prior to my surgery. The message boards are a safe place to ask questions, talk about your fears and concerns and talk to women who have been through similar experiences. My city even has a FORCE support group that I have attended. They also have a yearly conference that involves experts in hereditary cancers, physicians, surgeons, and information on understanding your risks, surveillance, surgery, healthy living, support groups and so much more. It is a wonderful support base.

Okay, so this is really unlike me to ask others for something...but I have found the FORCE organization to be very helpful during my quest for answers and support during my BRCA journey. If they were to place high enough in the Chase Community Giving Campaign it would be very beneficial to many people. The FORCE website was one of the first places I went when I found out about my BRCA1+ status because my sister had already been going there for a few years. If you have a free minute, your vote would count and could help numerous people. Below is some information explaining the Chase Community Giving Campaign, more information about FORCE and how you could vote to help a wonderful organization. Voting really is quick and easy! Thank you so much for your support!

What is Chase Community Giving?

In a nutshell, Chase has a campaign on Facebook and is going to be giving away a total of $5 million dollars to be split between 200 charities. The charity with the most votes will receive $250K, 4 runner-ups will receive $100K, and 195 charities will receive $20K.

What is FORCE?

FORCE is the only national nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the needs of and improving the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (such as BRCA mutants like me!). They provide lifesaving information on the latest medical treatment and risk management, resources, and awareness.

Voting on Facebook starts June 15, 2010 and 200 winning charities will be announced on July 13, 2010.

What would FORCE do with the money if they won?

For starters:
$1,000 delivers the latest in BRCA research and information to 500 families.
$500 gives 60,000 visitors access to their website for one month.
$300 provides a scholarship to FORCE’s annual conference to one person that could not otherwise attend.

$200 provides life-saving information to 100 people through their newsletter.
$100 provides phone-based support and resources via the Helpline for one month.
$50 provides a package of informational brochures to doctor’s offices and hospitals.

Just think – if $2250 can do all of that – how much good could be done even if we only place among the bottom 195, and win the lowest amount of $20,000! That’s a whole lot of help, to a whole lot of people!


“To improve the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.”

To this end, FORCE has eight mission objectives:

• To provide women with resources to determine whether they are at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer due to genetic predisposition, family history, or other factors.
• To provide information about options for managing and living with these risk factors.
• To provide support for women as they pursue these options.
• To provide support for families facing these risks.
• To raise awareness of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
• To represent the concerns and interests of our high-risk constituency to the cancer advocacy community, the scientific and medical community, the legislative community, and the general public.
• To promote research specific to hereditary cancer.
• To reduce disparities among under-served populations by promoting access to information, resources and clinical trials specific to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

Why is all of this important? As someone who has a BRCA genetic mutation, having an organization like FORCE on my side is invaluable. Without knowledge of what these genetic mutations mean, people can and do die from hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Spreading information saves lives, and provides much needed peace of mind, education, and emotional support for those of us afflicted with this mutation.

If you are on Facebook then it’s very simple to vote. First click here:

The next step is to join the movement by scrolling down just a little bit on the page & clicking the ‘Like’ button.

Next step: Click the big green ‘Search’ button and copy this text: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered and paste it in the box that says ‘Charity Name.’

Click the big blue ‘Search’ button to the right of that.

After you click that, you’ll see Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered in blue lettering. Click it.

Scroll down & check the box that says: “Please display my name and profile picture below so this charity knows it can contact me to get more involved.”

Click submit. A ‘Request for Permission’ box will pop up. Click ‘Allow’.

Vote – and share with your friends, and ask them to share with their friends, and so on.

I really appreciate your consideration in voting for FORCE. Although you are only able to vote for each organization one time, you have 20 votes total, so you can look at helping other organizations close to your heart as well! Thank you very much to anyone who is able to vote! I really appreciate your support! :)

Until next time, here’s to FORCE, Chase Community Giving and silicone!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

One Sweet Day

The other day I was driving alone in the car (believe me that isn’t common these days!) and a song came on the radio, “One Sweet Day” sung by Mariah Carey. If you’re my husband you’ll probably roll your eyes and make a fake gagging sound even just having to think about that song. But for a few reasons this song has some sentimental and emotional ties for me that pull my thoughts back to a different time in my life. To set the stage, during the last year of my Mom’s life, my Dad traveled a lot for work. He wasn’t usually gone for too long, but when he went out of town it was just me and my Mom. After her work and my school (I was in my senior year of high school) she would come up with a reason we needed to go to the mall and then we would eat dinner at Ruby Tuesday (we didn’t have lots of options in our small town :), plus, she loved getting the salad bar and baked potato or soup!). One of the times we were there for dinner, “One Sweet Day” came on in the restaurant. It wasn’t like it was playing all that loud, but it was enough for me to hear all of the words to the song and for some reason my head starting thinking not happy thoughts. Some parts of the song that hit me were: “had I imagined living without your smile…and I know you’re shining down on me from heaven…and I know some day that we will be together, one sweet day…” These pieces of the song made me start thinking “What if?” What if I actually lose Mom? I honestly can’t imagine living without her smile and hugs. Someday soon will I have to think about her looking down on me from heaven and look forward to the day I get to be with her again? I can’t live without her – what would I do without her? I could already feel an ache in my heart just letting these thoughts breach my conscious.

Now although I was very responsible and acted fairly grown up for my age (remember I had been seeing my Mom go through hell, be sick, taken her to chemos, etc…since I was 14) I was not in the grown up stage of mind thinking that it was a possibility that my Mom could actually die. I was, in fact, very na├»ve, super optimistic and always looking through rose colored glasses so to speak. I was this way until right before she died. As a perfect example: I wasn’t the type to talk back to my Dad and during those last few days of my Mom’s life, I remember him nicely trying to tell me I might want to start preparing myself. And I raised my voice a bit at him and said “No, Dad, no. Mom is not going to die.” I was in denial. I was only 18 years old and how else could I think? So these unhappy thoughts crossing my mind were unusual and scary and made me feel like a bad person for even letting them slither their darkness through my mind.

Several months after letting that song leave a permanent wound in my heart, those dark thoughts became reality. Ever since, when I hear “One Sweet Day” I tear up and cry, sometimes even bawl if I’m alone. It reminds me of how much I truly miss Mom and how I was eating dinner with her when I heard this song and had thoughts of “what if”. I think about how much I wish I could see her smile again (in real life, not just a picture) and how I hope she is proud of me and is the one in heaven with the biggest smile. [She told me at my high school graduation that she would be easy to spot because she would be the one with the biggest smile. :)] However, the other day in the car when the song came on…I didn’t cry. I didn’t even tear up or feel those awful feelings of loneliness and aches in my heart. When I realized what was, or I guess wasn’t happening, I felt a sense of peace. It was kind of surreal. I’m not saying that I expect to never again cry during this song. I’m just saying that it was comforting and maybe the wound in my heart has actually healed itself a tiny bit knowing I am doing everything in my power to avoid the same demise as my Mother. For me, it was a triumph, no matter how trivial.

Until next time, here’s to finding peace, triumphs and silicone.