Rainbows and Unicorns

https://rethinkbreastcancer.com/rainbows-and-unicorns/

Last August I had to have an emergency root canal. It was in the morning on the day I was supposed to drive up to Muskoka for Stretch Heal Grow.

Jasmin: Are you sure you are going to be able to come up today?

Me: Yup. It’s just a root canal. How bad could it be?

Jasmin: It’s not good S. You can just come tomorrow morning. Leo and I can handle it.

Me: I am coming. See you later!

I got in my car at 3pm, in the pouring rain with my mouth still frozen and drove the three hours to Trillium Resort and Spa. The night before the retreat was always a treat. It was a time for the team to connect and it was a time to bear witness to the magic of Jasmin.

On the subject of magic, I should set the scene of this retreat for you: Imagine a picture-perfect spot in nature, on a picture-perfect lake (it’s called Devine Lake – I swear), with the cutest little cabins and cottages, a spa, yummy food, trails in the woods and a waterfall (not joking). There was no possible way a root canal was going to prevent me from waking up and drinking my coffee with Jasmin on the dock, before the magic happens.

Photo courtesy of Melanie Gordon

I arrived just in time for dinner and made my way through the muck and puddles to the lodge to meet Jasmin and Leo, the yoga teacher. Somewhere between my pasta and molten chocolate lava cake the biggest, brightest rainbow appea…

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Rainbows and Unicorns

https://rethinkbreastcancer.com/rainbows-and-unicorns/

Last August I had to have an emergency root canal. It was in the morning on the day I was supposed to drive up to Muskoka for Stretch Heal Grow.

Jasmin: Are you sure you are going to be able to come up today?

Me: Yup. It’s just a root canal. How bad could it be?

Jasmin: It’s not good S. You can just come tomorrow morning. Leo and I can handle it.

Me: I am coming. See you later!

I got in my car at 3pm, in the pouring rain with my mouth still frozen and drove the three hours to Trillium Resort and Spa. The night before the retreat was always a treat. It was a time for the team to connect and it was a time to bear witness to the magic of Jasmin.

On the subject of magic, I should set the scene of this retreat for you: Imagine a picture-perfect spot in nature, on a picture-perfect lake (it’s called Devine Lake – I swear), with the cutest little cabins and cottages, a spa, yummy food, trails in the woods and a waterfall (not joking). There was no possible way a root canal was going to prevent me from waking up and drinking my coffee with Jasmin on the dock, before the magic happens.

Photo courtesy of Melanie Gordon

I arrived just in time for dinner and made my way through the muck and puddles to the lodge to meet Jasmin and Leo, the yoga teacher. Somewhere between my pasta and molten chocolate lava cake the biggest, brightest rainbow appeared right outside our window over Devine Lake. Right in our view. All three of us sat silently breathing it in. It was the most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen. No matter how many times I see a rainbow in my lifetime, I am always floored. Completely shocked by the sheer beauty of it and puzzled by it’s existence. This time was different…I had the feeling this rainbow was meant to be rig… Read More

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Precision Medicine + Metastatic Breast Cancer

https://rethinkbreastcancer.com/precision-medicine-metastatic-breast-cancer/

What is precision medicine and why does it matter when treating Stage IV breast cancer?

If you’ve already heard of precision medicine, what you’ve read likely fell into one of two camps. One point of view: it’s our ticket to sci fi-style healthcare. On the flipside, it’s an interesting tool, but certainly not the healthcare revolution we’ve been hoping for.

It’s a complicated topic, and we’re just at the very beginning of understanding how precision medicine will change healthcare, and breast cancer treatment in particular. But we do know that the truth isn’t as black and white as Wired’s perspective vs. The Atlantic’s. So, here are four things you need to know about precision medicine, and why it’s especially relevant for metastatic patients.

It’s really about targeted treatments.

The key to precision medicine is data—when doctors can identify exactly what tumour markers are specifically causing someone’s cancer, it’s easier to develop a targeted treatment.

Under our current system, each disease has a “standard of care,” or treatment protocol that is determined by scientific studies and survival stats. (In oncology, each type, stage and grade of the tumor has a standard of care.) There’s a reason medicine works this way—it’s an evidence-based approach where treatments have been studied and proven to work for most people, most of the time. If that first-line treatment doesn’t work for you, there are second- and third-line options that are also based on stats and outcomes.

Precision treatments help make therapy more customized. Doctors can now analyze the genes found in a tumour to look for the mutations that can cause cancer and often prescribe drugs that target cells with that mutation, destroying them and leaving healthy cells alone. Women with stage IV HER2-positive breast cancer, for example, may be prescribed trastuzumab (Herceptin), which binds itself to the HER2 receptors in a tumor cel… Read More

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Precision Medicine + Metastatic Breast Cancer

https://rethinkbreastcancer.com/precision-medicine-metastatic-breast-cancer/

What is precision medicine and why does it matter when treating Stage IV breast cancer?

If you’ve already heard of precision medicine, what you’ve read likely fell into one of two camps. One point of view: it’s our ticket to sci fi-style healthcare. On the flipside, it’s an interesting tool, but certainly not the healthcare revolution we’ve been hoping for.

It’s a complicated topic, and we’re just at the very beginning of understanding how precision medicine will change healthcare, and breast cancer treatment in particular. But we do know that the truth isn’t as black and white as Wired’s perspective vs. The Atlantic’s. So, here are four things you need to know about precision medicine, and why it’s especially relevant for metastatic patients.

It’s really about targeted treatments.

The key to precision medicine is data—when doctors can identify exactly what tumour markers are specifically causing someone’s cancer, it’s easier to develop a targeted treatment.

Under our current system, each disease has a “standard of care,” or treatment protocol that is determined by scientific studies and survival stats. (In oncology, each type, stage and grade of the tumor has a standard of care.) There’s a reason medicine works this way—it’s an evidence-based approach where treatments have been studied and proven to work for most people, most of the time. If that first-line treatment doesn’t work for you, there are second- and third-line options that are also based on stats and outcomes.

Precision treatments help make therapy more customized. Doctors can now analyze the genes found in a tumour to l…

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Cancer is Crap: In-Between Days

https://rethinkbreastcancer.com/cancer-is-crap-in-between-days/

November 30 2009, 1:06 PM

I was reading a book last night in which the narrator said something like, “Each day is someone’s first and someone’s last, but all those in between become just another day.” To which I thought: “What complete B.S. — surely it’s all the ones in between that count?”

Then, since my birthday is this week, I lay there in bed thinking about first days and last days. My first day was 38 years ago… When will my last day be? And that’s when the thought popped into my mind: “Wow, we should really celebrate my birthday this year because I may not have very many birthdays left.”

Um, whoa there. I just got fantastic results on my latest CT scans. Where did this party-crashing thought come from? From whence did this completely uninvited and so out of step with my little tango with cancer, icky thought emerge? This really, totally depressing, totally miserable little thought.

I mean — sick or not, old or young — of course it’s natural for people to entertain thoughts of their own demise from time to time. I myself have made a lifelong game of selecting my own funeral music. (‘She’s Gone’, by Hall & Oates, is the current frontrunner.) But this thought of having only a few birthdays left was just so… Melodramatic? Woeful? And yet so powerful.

At that moment my husband came in to the room, saw my face and immediately took me in his arms and asked me what was wrong. Through the tears that ensued, I managed to mumble the may-not-have-many-left thing into his shoulder. “Mais non!” He said, squeezing the bejeezus out of me (did I mention he’s French? and absolutely dashing, not that it’s relevant?) “What could make you think such a thing? You know that you will have as many birthdays as I know I will have — nobody can say how many they have left! Non! Those stupid spots are shrinking and that’s…

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