Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good-bye 2014, Hello 2015

It is the last day of 2014.  It has been an interesting year for me - one of incredibly good news, and yet also one of transition.  In some ways, I think it is as difficult to stand at the precipice of death as it is to stand safely a few steps back.   The view has changed, which has required an adjustment in not only thinking, but also in being.  Before I was dizzy, looking down at that long drop in front of me. Now I am steadier, looking out at the trees and hills with the horizon beyond. I face the knowledge that an earthquake could send me over at any time, but it is my choice whether I look down or up.  I am choosing up.

And so I am going to plan for improvement in this coming year.  In 2015, I hope to regain some health, strength and energy, whether the end goal is to live life or to prepare for new chemo. Beginning in January, I will be taking a 4 month long exercise class for cancer patients.  It is twice a week, 2 hours at a time, and I had to sign a contract stating I would show up. I will get personal training by somebody who understands that my body has been flayed from breastbone to waist, that my chest muscles have a foreign object in them, that inside my arm is a tube which is threaded through the veins that lead directly to my heart.  The person who will take my hand and lead me back to strength understands what years of chemotherapy can do, and will teach me to be in my body again rather than trying to pretend it isn't there.   I am eager to see if four months can turn back the clock a few years. I know that if I had to live the past few years all over again, starting from where I am now - I wouldn't have made it.

When I think back on my days of health and all that I could do before my diagnosis, I feel like that was an entirely different person. Getting up, going to work,  grocery shopping, driving children, cooking meals, the normal chores of day-to-day life have seemed beyond me.  Pain is my companion and weakness drags me down and sleep takes over everything.  Nobody would see me and say "Oh, she's sick" and yet I feel inside like an old woman, sick, every movement causing discomfort, not strong enough to do normal things.  It is time to change that while I can.   I look forward to regaining strength and muscle mass and feeling like my body is functioning again.   Heck, I might even be able to open my own prescription bottle!  (Do I dare to dream I can toss the bottles away?)

I've already started doing my part, as requested by my trainer, by eating slightly better.  I do have food aversions, and I was living on a few hundred calories a day. He told me my body cannot recover without fuel, which of course I knew.  So I now eat an egg and piece of toast in the morning.  When I start to work out, I'll add a smoothie and some protein powder.  I do feel a little better just adding an egg before I start my day.

I will be speaking at SXSW 2015, and am hoping to find a way to fund other metastatic cancer patients who want to attend.   It seems to me like the people who should be there are those who actually have a stake in this disease.  Look for more on that in the future.

Another goal is to work on methods to keep track of things.  My memory is unlikely to get better so I need to figure out a way around it.  For example:  I sent some Christmas cards, but I have no idea to whom.  I did some, got distracted, and by the time I wanted to do more, I couldn't remember who'd I'd sent them to.  I should have kept a list.  I am supposed to return calls, mail things, respond to people, and I have no idea if I have or not.  I've had to become passive, waiting and hoping people will contact me and remind me.  This is very unlike the real me so I need to figure it out.  Other people can rely on their memories - not me.

I really want to be a better friend.  So many people have been so kind to me, and it is rude to not get a response or thank you or something stating that they have meant something to me, and yet that is exactly what I do. My short and medium and even long term memory have serious gaps, and I really must learn a way to overcome it.  I can't remember if I sent somebody the card I'd thought about, the thanks I'd wanted to do.  It's as if my thinking "I need to send Koryn a card" turned into action into my brain, and I can no longer tell what's real and what was not and if it was done or not.  I thought about it, so it might have happened.   So even if I have to write everything I do down, it's a habit I must get into.

My last goal is to write an ebook.  I'd like to do that by SXSW so I can actually have a reason for being there.  I also want to gear it to metastatic patients, to give them some tips, ideas and things I've learned along the way.  I had a fabulous idea for how I wanted to structure it, but I no longer remember.  See goal above.

Mainly, I hope that everybody reading this is able to fulfill their own goals for the coming year. For those with cancer, I hope that the year is not filled with too much pain or sickness and your treatments are tolerable.  For those whose treatment has ended successfully, I wish them a worry-free future.  Remember, whatever is going to happen will happen.  All you can do is enjoy the day you are given, so try not to live in a place of worry.   For family, friends, and caregivers of cancer patients, I wish you strength.  It is not easy to watch somebody you love suffer but please remember that you must take care of yourself too.  I hope that acceptance and peace becomes part of each and every one of your lives.

If you have any goals for living with cancer, living past cancer, or living with a cancer patient, I'd love to hear them.

Have a happy, healthy 2015.  Thank you for reading me all these years, I'm truly honored by that.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Chemo-brained Christmas

I made it to another Christmas.  Good news indeed, but ungrateful wench that I am, I'm not quite feeling the joy and love I did last year.   This year I'm back to my traditional, "I hate those effing tree needles all over my floor"  rat race.    I no longer have the nagging feeling that it's my "last Christmas ever" that is so scary yet also heightens all things good and makes life seem poignant, as if you found a proper Instagram filter or are inside a Hallmark movie.  I guess it's good to know that you can go right back to your jaded, cynical, irritable self after living with advanced cancer for a while but still, a sprinkling of seasonal peace wouldn't hurt.

Maybe I should dip into the egg nog.

I do most of my shopping on Amazon (and for your own shopping pleasure, please use my affiliate linkto help me continue) but a few things I wanted to buy I could only get at a "real" store.  I also took my home-from-college son to buy gifts for his father and brother, lest they end up with Caltech tee shirts from the book store.   Shopping, whether online or in store, is crazy for me these days.  I clearly have a gift-giving disorder, exacerbated by chemo-brain.  Any mental connection from credit card to actual income is, for me,  as severed as a zombie head on the Walking Dead.

Long-time readers know that I have ADD.  I am one of those people who, on their way to accomplish something, walks past something shiny and gets distracted.  (Really.  Just now, I was going to take a shower, then walked past my computer, decided to check facebook for one second, then thought I'd start this blog post and opened up this tab to write it.  Now I'm remembering that I have to be someplace in an hour so I better get off the computer....)

...back.  My whole life is like that.  One pit-stop after the other.

I long ago figured out a way to live with ADD, and the big trick is to make sure those around you don't expect too much.  It wouldn't be a normal day for my husband if I wanted to go somewhere and didn't ask him if he knew where my car keys were.  Wherever I put them down, it has to do with whatever I was thinking about at the time, which could be anything from watering plants to taking a nap. And yes, he has bought me those beeper things that you put on your keys, and they really do work, until you lose the button pushing part of it, or it needs batteries changed and you have no idea where you put those for "safe keeping."

Chemo Brain brings on a different set of problems.   Unfortunately, after 7 chemos and all the antibiodies, painkillers, and whatever else,  I am experiencing some new kinds of cognitive dysfunction.  It definitely seems to be getting worse over time, and lately anything I want to remember just flits out of my brain seconds after it arrives, like a dragonfly on a pond.  Zip, zap, gone.   I cannot remember numbers, dates, what day it is, anybody's name including my own children.  I can't remember a single thing I wanted to remember almost immediately after I wanted to remember it, from something as important as making airline tickets to as minor as needing something at the store.  The second I think of it and get up to write it down - gone.  "Why am I standing here?"  It is very frustrating and happens all day, it's the norm for me now.  I keep thinking I should put a pen and mini-note pad around my neck and wear it that way, like Super Dork, but like my keys, I'm sure my special necklace would somehow end up in the fridge.

For that reason, I'd really hoped to get the Amazon Echo, and so put my name on the list to get one on the first day.  I thought if I could just say out loud what I wanted to remember without having to interface with anything, it might help. Unfortunately, I'm not one of the lucky ones who have been selected to give it a test and so my thoughts continually vaporize. Whether I could say anything out loud before I forget it is a question I may never discover the answer to.

That's not all that chemo brain has done to me.  I have some problems with word retrieval that annoys my family tremendously, and me too.  They all finish my sentences now because I can't think of the words.  I know my IQ has dropped about 10 points.  "Uh, um, uh" is now on the list of my most frequently used words as my mind desperately scrambles to come up with the word.  "Tweet" is a word I couldn't come up with today, and instead, my labyrinthine method of communicating somebody's interesting tweets was to say,  "You should read Neil DeGrasse Tyson', uh, you know that popular thing, um, you know, the software, um, his twitters...."  As a person with a few twitter followers myself, I'm certainly aware of the lingo but my unfortunate sentence was said to a 17 year old so you can understand the reaction.  (A snort of laughter, a "you mean tweet?" and an eye-roller capper about describes it.) They haven't quite figured out I actually, literally have brain damage.  Of course, to a 17 year old, being in my mid-50s means automatic brain damage anyway.

The good news is I no longer blurt out the right answers if anybody is watching Jeopardy.  That kind of fact retrieval is now impossible.  Oddly, my brain still seems to function smoothly if I am typing.  I can get thoughts on paper with coherence.  But they won't leave my brain through my mouth without stumbling quite a bit.  This makes me quite nervous about SXSW, and I'm wondering if I can type my thoughts onto a screen instead of having to actually, you know...speak.

What does this have to do with Christmas?  "She's going off on a tangent again," you are thinking now that you know me.  Christmas was difficult this year with these new brain farts, because although I have always been disorganized and had minor chemo-brain I was not seriously forgetful.  I was actually quite good at my job, which required some higher level multi-tasking skills.   This year though, it is terrible, much worse, than before.   I have no memory of what I bought for anybody.  My curse is going to turn out to be somebody's blessing, for I kept thinking, "I haven't bought my son's fiance anything yet" when in truth, I had, I had just forgotten. I thought that more than 13 times.  She now has more gifts under the tree than anybody else.  Some of them, she'll even like.

A few things I don't even remember buying and was surprised myself when the boxes arrived.  One gift came for somebody, and I have absolutely no idea who I bought it for or what I was thinking and did I really choose that color?  I wrapped that gift and put a name on it but it is in a size nobody in my family wears.

Our family tradition is to open a present on Christmas Eve.  The gift has always been PJs and books, started when the kids were young to get them into bed and calm them while waiting for Santa. And, by the kids I mean me, my sister and brother - the tradition started with my mother, and I continued it.   We still do it although for many years it has expanded to include a gathering with my stepchildren and their families.

I spent five hours wrapping my mountains and mountains and mountains of gifts.  I turned on Radiolab, got the paper, the pen, the stickers, the scissors and the tape and dug in.  My back still hurts today.  But I forgot to keep track (although I had meant to) and by the end, by the time I put them under the tree, I could not remember what was in those packages.  Including those Christmas Eve gifts, which are buried ... somewhere.  Somebody is going to get a book and PJs on Christmas morning, I suppose.

I did manage to send gifts to those who could not be here. I think.  Unfortunately, my stepdaughter has a birthday a few days after Christmas, and I now cannot remember what I got her.  I believe she was caught up in the first whirlwind of Sephora shopping when the Christmas spirit was high, but who knows?  All I can hope for is that I don't buy the same thing twice.

The good news is I am comfortable enough to make a decision about next year's Christmas.  My kids are adults now and can handle the change in tradition:  This year, I'll take advantage of after Christmas sales, and I'm going to get a fake tree, one that doesn't drop needles.  

The ability to plan. That is my amazing, incredible gift.  Worth all the other stuff that comes with it.

ADD, Chemo Brain and Christmas - not a very good mix.  My pocketbook might be aching and my gifts all mixed up, but I did remember you all - another gift in my life -  and so the entire point of all the the above words was to say:

My very best to you and yours.  Have a happy, healthy Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate), and a safe and joyous New Year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Survivor's Guilt

“Isn’t she supposed to be dead by now?”

I fear those words may be whispered behind my back as I go out in public.

It’s true. I couldn't blame the whisperers. I was supposed to be dead. I thought I would be by now too. So why am I not when so many others are?

I don’t know, and that leaves me confused, with no data to steady myself. There is no clean answer. How long do you have to survive past the posted prognosis before you become afflicted with Survivor’s Guilt? For one thing, you have to start to believe you might survive, and for me, that time is now.

In a funny way, it’s embarrassing to still be alive. I snap at people in anger, I’m bored, annoyed - I’m back to normal. I’m not living a beatific, grateful, Oprah-inspired life. People think somebody who has been through a trauma and lived through it should be Zen-like, but I roll my eyes, than feel guilty. I’m living an ordinary, messy existence. I don’t behave like a woman who is staring death in the face. I plan for the future, a year out, two years. I don't think twice making airline reservations.  I no longer believe I’ll die any sooner than anybody else; I don't live in three month increments anymore.  (I only get a routine scan yearly, a symptom has to appear for me to earn time in a machine.). I go to my oncology treatment every three weeks routinely now, like a rich women would do with her dermatologist. Just part of the schedule.   My husband and I just had a conversation about our Christmas tree next year.  A year ago, I wouldn't have discussed something that far off.

Is this all denial? Possibly.

In truth, you cannot keep up the fervor of living in a terminal state year after year, even if the menace has not passed. Eventually, the danger feels less immediate and you return to your normal self, and then think of all the people who never had that chance.  You feel guilty that you grump about the rain when other people don't get to, and a drop hits you and you grump again.

Survivor's Guilt is classified in the DSM IV is a “mental condition that occurs when a person perceives themselves to have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not.”

That’s not quite right though. I don’t believe I did anything wrong in surviving – in fact, people with my same disease now look at me with hope that they can do it too. That’s a good thing. I don’t think anybody else would think I've done anything wrong, even the dead people, not that they wouldn't have wanted to be alive too. More accurate is my belief that others deserved to live more than I did. Better people than me are now gone; people who were funnier, who were kinder, who had more to give, and I’m still trudging along, bitching about how cold I am and slamming pain meds for my aches and pains. It is not fair, and I know it. Certainly, nobody could argue that a child whose life had barely started should have been allowed to live over me. I like to think I would have traded, taken on the suffering and death of a child so that he may live. But you don’t get to do that, so my noblesse oblige is meaningless, perhaps even a lie, pedal never put to the metal.

Mixed into the soupy cloud of guilt is also the thought of a broken promise. I played the metastatic cancer card often in the early days. Not like a gambler, calculating odds and trying to determine outcome, but like a new mother. She’s so in love with her baby that’s all she can talk about, and she’ll slap a phone full of photos in front of you at any opportunity. Her entire life is about that baby. Having metastatic cancer has that level of intensity, it drives your every thought for a long time. And so you mention it because it’s always on your mind and sometimes, you are sick and you need help. Sometimes, you just want understanding.  People, because they are innately good, play your game and even let you win.

Uncountable numbers of friends and strangers have brought over food, sent cards, given gifts to cheer me up, done special things for me over the past few years.  They thought they were cheering up a woman on the verge of death. Sometimes, of course, they were right. There were times Death got into bed with me, but he always found me wanting and left. So were their efforts worthwhile?

In a way, with Survivor’s Guilt, you feel like you have scammed people. You hear those stories about the women who pretended they had breast cancer and even shaved their heads to start a crowdfunding account, and you cringe. “Do people think that’s what I did?” You feel guilt without committing a crime.   Or maybe they think you didn't understand your diagnosis, and are, perhaps, stupid. Certainly, I've met a number of women who told me they had Stage IV cancer and in reality, had misunderstood their diagnosis (thinking a cancer cell in a axillary node was the same as a metastasis). Am I now in that group, people doubting my cancer had ever been in my liver or considered dangerous?  Do they think I was a drama queen?

What do I owe these people, those who were kind, those who may doubt? My death? It feels like that’s the right and appropriate payoff.


Perhaps somebody thinks I have the metaphorical "job on earth" that has yet to be done.  (If so, I'm guessing it's emptying the dishwasher.) In reality, I think chaos and medical science clash and the outcome is unpredictable. I got a good doctor who went above and beyond, I have a type of cancer that so far only wants to live in the liver, that didn't respond to chemo but does respond to Perjeta, and I was born at the right time to get these new treatments, ones that didn't exist five years ago, that now have extended my life into unknown territory. My doctor says I am an experiment, and he does not know and can’t predict what my future holds. He doesn't know how long I should be on this drug, what will happen if I go off it or stay on it – I’m a mystery, unstudied.  My doctor did a Hail Mary Pass by putting me on this drug the way I am on it.  The ball was caught in the endzone, and I'm doing the chicken dance - but the match is still not over.

Calling my own life lived and thinking it’s normal forever is a dangerous game. The Sword of Damocles still hangs above my head; to date, there is no cure for Metastatic Breast Cancer. Remembering that helps alleviate the guilt a little. Many of my friends have been NED and then relapsed, most of them actually.  That’s the name of the game with organ mets.

But I’m starting to know some who are NED….and who stay there.  Not only bone mets, but organ too, even brain.  It’s early yet, but I hope I’ll be in that group, a long-term survivor.  I'm starting to believe. I have already outlived the prognosis for a woman with liver mets.  If my choice is to be hopeful or doubtful, I am going to choose hope.

Still, guilt is now in the mix of emotions that consist of long-term survival. Hope, doubt, guilt, worry...all normal.  

When I wondered why I was the one to get metastatic cancer among everybody I knew who was diagnosed at the same time, I told myself, why not me?  It has to be somebody.  So that's going to be my answer when feelings of guilt rear up.

Why not me?  It has to be somebody.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Snippets Before the Holiday - Life with Cancer

Have you liked my facebook page?  I've been posting little snippets of my life with cancer there, and here is what you have missed:

November 24, 2014 - Cleaning for Thanksgiving

Why did I spend hours today cleaning my closet when I have guests coming for Thanksgiving? 

ADD, that's why. 

I'd decided to clean off my living room coat rack so people could use it, and one item hanging there was my sweater.  It belonged in my closet, of course, so I took it to my bedroom. I grabbed a hanger, put the sweater on it,  but had to jam it in, there was barely room in the closet, and I realized there were a lot of empty hangers taking up too much space.

Okay, I'll take them out, that'll just take a second. Then I noticed all those sleeveless, sheer things in there.  It's too cold to wear them this time of year even with a sweater so I might as well store them in my summer bin, which has been conveniently left on the floor of my bedroom. I began folding them, neatly. Oh look, so many sweaters are in the closet! I'd forgotten about them. They're all on the top where I can't reach, no wonder I forgot.  Why not move them down so I can access them? Maybe we can lower the heating bill if I have something warmer to wear.   I'll put them down on the low rack and move my skirts and things I wear less frequently up high.

Hmm....I also have more tees than I thought, which I rarely wear,  so I can put them in a dresser drawer to make more room.  Nice.  I have lots of shirts I can layer with the sweaters, but if I'm going to layer, I need to know what color everything is, so I have to organize by shade - which means everything has to be taken out of the closet and rearranged.  So, it all comes out and covers my bed, and since I bought a bunch of flocked hangers, all my clothing can go on those and nothing will fall off, so I take each piece of clothing and give it a new hanger.  Wow, do I have a TON of dry-cleaning hangers leftover!  Well, my husband can take them to the thrift store, I'll just bag them up. 

Suddenly, I realized I've been in here 3 hours and people are coming over and I should work on the living room - one of those people is a crawling baby! I look at the bed, which is completely covered in hangers and clothing and boxes.  I'm married, which means I'm at the point of no return.  I could certainly sleep under this stuff, but sigh, not my husband. 

Or my cat. 

I have to finish.

Five hours later - dust bunnies roam where my guests will be, but my closet is color coded, tops are hung by sleeve length and style, and everything is on the same type of hanger, facing in the same direction.  Scarves, tanks and hats are all in bins, and I found an old Gucci purse I'd forgotten all about. (An ebay purchase I suspect is fake and which seems to be peeling inside, and is that a bug?) 

Maybe I should serve dinner in the clean closet.....once I throw away the purse.

November 22, 2014 - Cancer Rant (edited)

I am feeling annoyed and stressed and it shows up as my being short-tempered with those who seem self-absorbed especially. And yet, here is a self-absorbed post. Go figure!

The pain is bothering me - nothing new there but it's probably because the weather is cold. I'm sick of the game of having to refill meds: call 24 hours in advance, then drive to get them from the doctor's office, take them to the pharmacy, pick them up, sometimes twice a month since they run out at different times.  The holidays make it worse because everybody is closed and you have to time it so you don't run out and the insurance companies don't let you refill even a little's annoying, but if I don't have my meds I am going to be in pain on a family holiday. Makes me feel like a druggie, thanks Feds.

Also:  I'm sick of being tired ALL.THE.TIME.  I wake up and want a nap.

I'm stressed because there is a lot to do before Thanksgiving with a crawler baby, and not much help. My husband is a very good guy but cleaning is not in his skill-set and he has to be told step-by-step what to do, which is exhausting. He is not a worrier but I am - could there be a pin on the floor the baby could get?  It's been 16 years since I had a crawler.  Plus,  I'm very behind on things I need to do (necklaces people ordered I wasn't ready for, they are 90% made but I'm too busy and behind to get them packaged, how CRUEL of me is that?) and I haven't started my Christmas cards yet,  and not only that....

..... the fact that I am in remission is not comforting me.

It is making me see life as way too long - I'm actually feeling ready for it to be over, like I'm done. Like the best years are over and now it's just difficulty.   I know that's ungrateful.  Am I going to live like this for years? What seemed wonderful and manageable now seems like a long, long road full of discomfort and trouble now that it's not ending quick. I know that won't go over well with many who have cancer and are doing poorly, and why should it?  But it's the way I am feeling on this day.

Yes, I want to see my older son marry and yes, I want to see my other son graduate college and watch my grandson grow up....but the space in between doing those things? Right now, it doesn't seem worth it, because I physically cannot do things to pass the time without pain and needing a nap. It is not fun not being healthy, I guess.  And cold, being cold is hard.

I have a new worry:  my husband's kidney function keeps coming back bad and now he has to see a nephrologist.  Well, that doesn't help me mentally. He is 11 years older than me and at some point, I may need to care for him, we always expected that. And that is going to be a sad story now as I'm not that great at caring for myself.  I know better than to jump ahead from a bad blood test to a serious disease, but because of our age difference, I do wonder what will happen if I don't die and he can't help?  Two sick people is one too many.  Our plan was for him to be sick but it's been me.  That's okay but how can it be both of us?

I guess this type of thinking is the adjustment from terminal illness to chronic illness.  What was joy at the thought that I had life left, years maybe, is turning into the realization that those years might not be great ones.

I should be working every day, we should be going out and enjoying our life, seeing plays and going to dinner, doing some traveling and all of that.  Now that my husband is retired and my son is in college, that was our plan. And, we can't.  Because of me, because I don't feel well, it's entirely my fault.

Don't I know better than most plans are an illusion? I do. But I'm still feeling that loss. It's a new one because I thought the loss was immediate but now it seems a long, slow decline.

This too shall pass.  My guess is it will pass the second daylight savings comes back.

I figure I will post it, as I think some people think I never have these days. And they are wrong. They aren't often; I love life, even diminished, even not the way I'd planned - but these negative days roll around for me as they must for everybody who has been sick for years. I'm not fond of whining but sometimes, you need to get it off your chest.

I KNOW I'm lucky, but I'm human.

November 20th, 2014 - Day after Perjeta/Herceptin Infusion

I'm in bed, bones aching, throbbing. I'm in a weird half place; not tired enough to sleep, not feeling well enough to get up to get to the painkillers. So I sit in bed and just...hurt. I look at my arm next to me and it's glinting. WTF? I have tiny pieces of glitter stuck in the wrinkles of my arm, sprinkled from wrist to shoulder, really, I'm just showered in glitter. It's not a good look. Beautiful, tan, round twenty-year old arms look lovely with glittered mica floating on the skin, but not 56 year old beef jerky skin arms; the glitter settles between mini-folds and the cracks of a hard life. Why glitter? It must have come from a Lush Christmas moisturizer bar that I slathered on last night. I didn't see or know that there was glitter in it, but it's sparkling at me today; winking at me. 

In summation, I'm in bed, sick from cancer treatment, smelling like cotton candy and glittering in the light.

Other Stuff

Don't forget to start here for any Amazon purchases you make this season. I am an Amazon Affiliate, which means I get a small percentage of the things you buy. All you have to do is start your shopping session from my blog and anything you end up checking out, I get 4 to 6% of the price. It has been a great help over the years.  I do have an affiliate box on the right or you can use the link in this post. That's the main way I make "money" from this blog (actually, I get Amazon gift cards that I use on Amazon that my son has access to if he needs anything in college) so it's helpful and costs you nothing.

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If I am not able to post before Thanksgiving, I hope  you have a wonderful day, full of food, family, football and whatever your tradition is.   I know I will - my youngest son comes home from college tomorrow.  I cannot wait, and if allowed, will throw a photo or two on facebook.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thanksgiving Cancer Style

I used to be a foodie.  I cooked "gourmet" as it was called then.  Fresh everything, from scratch.  I  grew my own herbs, shopped farmers markets, had boxes from local farmers delivered to my house weekly with unknown goodies in them I'd find recipes for.  I was the first to find a weird and unknown vegetable and figure out how to use it.   I cooked a different, fresh meal every day, simple meals on the weekday and elaborate ones on the weekend.  They were steaming plates of love, and I know my husband married me for my cooking skills.  I was farm to fork before Farm to Fork became a thing.  I enjoyed entertaining (not because of decorating, and my guests had to step over the dust bunnies, but because of food) and loved coming up with epicurean dishes. I know I am responsible for at least one women becoming interested in food. (Hi Colleen!)

Thanksgiving is a foodie's paradise - as well as a foodie's hell. One has to serve traditional, expected dishes otherwise people get upset. But within that, one can become creative.  In year's past, I scoured Bon Apetit and other cooking magazines for unique recipes to make the old.. new. Yes, I made the green bean casserole that everybody makes -  but I would use fresh green beans, picked that day and lightly cooked in salted water.  I'd french my own onions, make my own whitesauce and use portobellos as the mushroom.  My cranberry sauce might have ginger and jalapeno, my stuffing might be rye. Gravy would be made with hand-picked bay leaves and stock I made myself from the innards.   I'd roast root veggies, mash sweet potatoes with cream or chop them with rosemary.  I was creative with new recipes and tried something different every year.  I'd even sometimes go for a theme:  Southern, with blackened turkey and cornbread dressing,  or New American with Smoked Turkey and garlic mash.  I always had 3 pies made with homemade whipped cream, one of them chocolate.

My larder was, to say the least, loaded.  I overcooked, and everybody had full plates, and seconds and thirds.

But then I got sick and started years of chemotherapy.  I slowly stopped cooking, and my youngest son has grown up very differently than my oldest - much more take-out, much less creativity, Dad as the primary (and uninterested) chef.  I kept up the holiday cooking, but it became difficult.   Standing for a long time is painful, a three day cooking marathon exhausting. Shopping with a low white count was dangerous.  I loved my family but it was too much work.  One year, early on in my chemo days, my stepdaughter did the Thanksgiving cooking, which is a fond memory.  The food was delicious (no small feat for somebody not used to my difficult kitchen).  I got to just sit and eat, a real treat, unusual.

Eventually though, years of treatment have dragged on, the visible sign of my illness - my hair - grew back.  I have been in remission for almost a year.  People are naturally weary of my disease and have started to think of me as well again.  I almost do too, sometimes.  I now plan for the future, buy subscription boxes (this time makeup samples) and am even halfway done with Christmas shopping.  I didn't do those things last Thanksgiving, not convinced I'd be around for a month.   But however long this remission lasts, 2 months or 5 years,  I don't think I'll ever be healthy again; years of cancer treatment has left its wretched mark.  I still need 12 hours of sleep, I still have quite a bit of pain and cramping, I can't stand for long nor can I lift my arm above my head.  For crying out loud -  laughing too much sends me into spasms of pain and hiccups!  I can't laugh!   Five years of ongoing chemo and surgeries have left scars, both visible and invisible.

But I'm not complaining.  I'm thrilled every moment that I am here, even the days the dog gets skunked.

It does mean though, that cooking is still hard and to top it off,  I have completely lost my appetite.  I have no interest in eating, which is why my weight is down to the low 90s.  Although I don't recommend this, I've self-diagnosed myself as having Cancer Anorexia-Cachexia Syndrome.  Or at least the Anorexia part. My doctor is very concerned about my weight although hasn't given it a name.  I am not near the end of my life, (I hope) but I do fit the criteria as outlined. I would never eat again if it was up to me, which is sad considering how much I loved food. I wish I could eat, and I do try but it is painful and the thought of food is repulsive (which is why it's hard to cook).  If I get sick and lose more weight, it takes months to get it back.   In the past,  I could never eat a lot and was always thin, but boy did I enjoy good food. Now, about all I can stand is fruit and it has to be perfect, and I also eat Sprees like a child. I had always thought that when my kids were grown and gone my husband and I would go out to eat regularly, brunch on the weekends, dinners out a few nights a week, and we'd try all the new restaurants we could, as a foodie should. There are many good ones in Sacramento.  That would be our hobby together - and now I have no interest at all.  I'm a good girl, knowing I must, I do eat once a day most days, but my caloric intake is pretty low.

Still,  I like nothing better than my family gathered around my table for the holidays, even the food-centered ones.   I have a specCrapular house, old (built in 1947) uncleanable, Mamie pink bathroom, not enough electrical outlets, too many pets.  But it is full of my family and that's what I love.  I want them to keep coming for holidays - and this year I have a grandbaby!

What what does a person with certain former food standards do when they can't cook to entice their family home for the holidays?

I discovered Whole Foods Thanksgiving Meals.  Not only is delicious,  it's really no more expensive than making your own meal.  For $99.00, you get a 12 pound free-range, antibiotic-free turkey with 4 pounds of mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry, rolls, 8 gravy, and a Pumpkin Pie.  For an additional 50.00, you can add sweet potato casserole, a potato gratin, more rolls, sausage stuffing, mushroom gravy and a cranberry apple pie.

I ordered them both, as I have for the past 3 years, and I know it's enough to feed 15 people with leftovers.  Now all I have to do is make the green bean casserole for my son (this time with Campbell's soup and French's canned onions), a coleslaw recipe that has been in my family for generations, and a chocolate pie, still with homemade whipped cream.  And, we will feast, and I may have a bite or two myself.

I know many stores sell these Thanksgiving meals, and previously, I could not imagine buying one.  But it has become a yearly necessity, and I'm so thankful that they are available. After having one, even healthy, I can't imagine not purchasing it.  The Whole Foods meal is delicious, richly flavored and healthy.    My table will again be full of delectable, if not exactly home-made food, and I will be celebrating not only another amazing year of life, but my oldest son's recent engagement and watching my new grandson experience his first Thanksgiving.

What could be better than that?

I can't wait.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Michael Davis' tumor

I considered blogging about Brittany Maynard and her compelling right to die story, but I could not bring myself to do it.  I believe that this is each person's decision, and I really have no business weighing in.  We all know what I would have done in her situation:  here I am.  Yet, she has her own value system and her own way of determining what is best for her family and how can I analyze that? I can't.

My only worry is that, should it become law in my state,  insurance companies may possibly start denying care and pushing people into making this decision when they might not have before.  If it could be pure than I could support it but in business and politics there is no purity, and I do believe, if an error is to be made, it should be made on the side of respecting life above all else.  And that is pretty much the extent of my thoughts on this poor woman and this controversy, except that I wish her family peace and comfort during this difficult time.

I know this has been a polarizing story.  I thought this might be the time to show that there are people who want to live on when they have glioma, who chose a different path. My friend Michael is one. I've known him since 2002, before cancer had entered either of our lives.  Last summer, he had surgery to remove his deadly tumor, which you can see above, was nearly half his brain.  He spent four months in a rehab center but recovered enough to be released to his family. He is now doing chemo.

He has had a very tough road, and it is unlikely to get easier for a while. He is a father who can no longer work. He got cancer 8 months before his job would have been saved for him. He is trying to get COBRA.   He's working with the drug companies to try and get his supportive, anti-seizure, anti-nausea meds covered.  He has struggled to relearn many things we take for granted.  Yet he is enjoying his children and appreciating life.

He and his family can use financial support.  Here is his GoFundMe page.  You can read his updates, although they are difficult due to the language processing centers that were damaged.  But you can still see the sense of humor and hope that shine through.

If you can help a guy out, this is the one to help. Even if you can't help by donating, you can help by sharing this with your friends.   The more people who see it, the better. He does not have a professionally done video, or any news media to help get the word out, or a professional writer to help state his case - nothing but his family and his words before he underwent treatment. Of all things, this should go viral. If a guy can get tens of thousands of dollars for making potato salad, then surely people will find it in their hearts to give this family a little security as they deal with this awful situation - one that I understand deeply, can happen to any one of us, at any time.

Those of you who believe that Brittany Maynard did the "wrong" thing, I think you have a responsibility to put your backing behind somebody who is doing what you think is the "right" thing, don't you?  Here is your chance.

Mostly....Thanksgiving is coming. Then Christmas.  Let's buy this family a turkey - and then some! Let's give them some breathing room. Let's make those kids have one less thing to fear.

To donate directly:   First Financial, Michael Davis Medical Fund/#02110099799, 4400 Buffalo Gap Road, Abilene, Texas 79606

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Whew.....We Survived Pink October. On to November!

My goal for pink October was one long post, detailing how egregious the marketing has become.  I have had several people say that seeing it laid out that way opened their eyes.  I do realize it was difficult to read and I apologize, but I do think it was important to have a long, pink line highlighting what has gone so wrong with the month.

Breast cancer does not exist solely in October.  I live with it every day.  While I am lucky enough to be in remission right now, it only takes a small thing to remind me how close to the brink I am.

I had a cold and sore throat, which is no big deal for most people.  I, however, had lost some weight and got down to 94 pounds, which means I don't have reserves of strength to draw on.   Then I went to get my therapy, and that day I crashed, hard.  How I made it home, I am unsure, as I started feeling ill before I left the infusion room.  I was fine when I walked in, and by the time I got home,  I was in bed, vomiting, sweating, weak, shaking.  No fever, but very ill.  I spent 2 full days in bed, trying to eat soup but throwing it up.  On day 3, I recovered, got up, shaky like a new born fawn.  It is Day 5 and I am still weak but I ate eggs yesterday, soup, mashed potatoes and kept it all down.

Small things that for others go unnoticed, for me can cause devastation.

I learned:  don't have a cold and get therapy at the same time.  Next infusion, I will ask for the drip to be slowed, just in case I am starting to react to the meds.

Cancer, for me, is 24/7.   My doctor told me that I am "on the edge" and he is right.

As are many of us who live with metastatic breast cancer.  Our lives will never be normal again.

Next October, if you see this, don't bother dressing up in pink costumes for "breast cancer day" at your workplace.  Find a cancer patient, bring her some soup.  A blanket.  Write her a card.  Do something FOR somebody. Remember, that cancer is all year and for some of us, it is the rest of our lives.

On to November, Thanksgiving and the Holidays!

A favor:  during this shopping season, if you buy things on Amazon, please remember to start your search from the box to your right on my page.  I get 6% of all sales, and you don't have to do anything but start your search from here.  Thank you!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ann's October Hall of Shame, 2014 Version

Here is where I will be putting all the PR letters and requests I get to promote pink items, as well as the charities that they partner with and just anything that I think adds to the pink atrocity that is the month of October.  You can make up your own mind what you think about these letters, events and sales tactics, but I think when you see them stacked in a long line at the end of the month, you will be shocked at the indignity displayed and how much this month is about selling product rather than helping anybody, and how much this infantilizes women.

This page will be continuously updated through the entire month, so please keep returning, even though the title doesn't change.  If you want to be notified when I update it, please follow my facebook page as I will notify everybody there with each update.  If you prefer twitter, follow me @butdocihatepink.

Here weeeeee goooo......

Last Week of October

Before I leave you with this stark evidence of what this month has become, I want to thank everybody who sent me a photo, who wrote a letter, who fought for understanding.  We had some successes - people who listened and learned and now know that the pink messaging is wrong.

But it will take some time for success.  Breast cancer, for us, is all year long.  It is in danger of becoming a month in which everything is decorated pink but has no meaning.  During Christmas, we have to wade through months of advertising to find true meaning, and in October, we endure a month of pink decor to find a glimpse of hope that our disease will be cured.

Let's declare "awareness" over, and start the next phase.  "Research."  Together, there can be a cure for breast cancer, and thus breakthroughs in all cancers.  But not if the money is spent on pink balloons.


OR ELSE!!!!!


Paula, I'm glad you have something to tell me.  I have something to tell you.   Here are some women who "checked" themselves.

And, one of me:

Checking yourself does not "protect yourself."  It just finds cancer.

And by the way, you dance like you are on tamoxifen.


Hello Ann,

My name is XX. I am an intern with Darna & Company. We have a new product in the market called the X band. This band uses peppermint aroma therapy and acupressure to combat nausea and vomiting. We have joined with the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida to help patients going through treatment. For every band purchased in the month of October, a patient at the cancer center will receive one free of charge. Please visit our website, X, and amazon for more information. To receive $1 off use the coupon code: SAVBOOBS. We hope that this band will bring relief to the nausea and vomiting from the trauma of the chemotherapy treatment. Please share our information with others that deal with nausea and vomiting. Thank you for your time.



Dear Intern,

While I'm sure your product is helpful, and I support the Moffitt Cancer Center, I take exception to the coupon code, "saveboobs."  Breast cancer is not about saving "boobs," it is about saving lives.  And for that reason alone, I will not consider promoting your item.

You may think a coupon code is meaningless, trivial,  or the wrong thing to worry about.  But this month is full of cutesy discussions about boobs, pink,  and breast-related items.  It minimizes the disease for those of us, like me, who have end-stage cancer and will die from it. The last thing on our minds is saving our tatas.  We want to live to raise our children, to participate in life.  The area in which our cancer arises gets far too much focus, and I will not have anything to do with it. The conversation needs to be changed entirely.

While I believe Moffitt will use money in a better fashion than, say, Komen, I do not participate in the demeaning of women and what is a serious and often terminal illness.  And, I don't believe any cancer center should.  Had the code been "savelives" than I might have shared it with my network.

As an intern (in what?) I hope you will consider this point of view in the future.  It is a large one and growing fast.  Check out Breast Cancer Action, check out Think Before You Pink, check out Pink Ribbon Blues, check out my blog and facebook page and check out the various social media activites all repudiating and rejecting the pink message of boobs, survivorship and ribbons.



10/17/2014 - WAZE and Pink Ribbons

Hi, Ann-

I know we are deep into October; however, I thought this could be interesting for you. Waze has mapped all mammography screening center locations in the US to help Wazers navigate there easily (8100 places.)

Drivers will see pink ribbons on the map or can search for "Pink" in the search box.

Personally, I like this initiative because Waze is not pinkwashing - we're actually providing a service that's actionable and free.

For more information please see our official blog post is here: 

Let me know what you think and if this would be of interest to cover.

So, I suppose the "not pinkwashing" means there is no donation involved? My definition means using breast cancer for your own gain and continuing the spread of misinformation about it.

 I actually use this app and love it, or should I say, loved it.  I happen to be THAT person, the one who can go somewhere every day for ten years and still get lost, so in my mind, GPS is the best invention ever.

But aside from all the issues with this (who drives by and goes, "Oh, maybe I'll stop in for my mammogram?"  does nobody ever think about women who ALREADY have breast cancer during this month?  As a waze user, with metastatic (terminal) breast cancer, do you think I want to see these pink ribbons waving as I drive around? This is a reminder of the disease that will kill me.

I'm not sure I'm the one lost with this bandwagon jumping.  Waze seems to have lots its way.

When are these companies going to learn to speak to those of us with disease and see what we think before they post these things?

Oh right, "Their friend's mother's sister had cancer and so they understand."  Um hm.

If you go to their blog post, you read this:

"Breast Cancer Awareness Month is marked every year in October. While breast cancer is a very common cancer worldwide, the good news is that there are good chances for survival if the cancer is found and treated early. Therefore awareness is crucial.

For this reason, all October long, Waze will be sporting pink ribbons marking local screening centers in the US. You can also simply search the word "Pink" in order to navigate to a facility in your area. We'd like to thank community member OrbitC for his suggestion that sparked the idea for the campaign."

We hope this initiative will help raise awareness, especially regarding the need for early detection."

So I commented on their blog post, rebutting their early detection idea and their flat out lie that survival is possible if it is found early and I sent them the information.

My comment has to be approved and so I assume that it will never be shown.  I've deleted Waze off my phone.  

10/13/2014 - Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

We metastatic women have one day of this whole pink month dedicated to us - the only women who will die of breast cancer.

So, what does an awareness organization in the UK do?  They decide to make this "No Bra Day." Presumably, today you are supposed to walk around without a bra (what if you don't have breasts?) and raise awareness.  Yes, awareness, that is what they want to raise.  Their very clever logo is "Set the Tata's free."

They have a facebook page.

So I decided to share my opinion.  I write a nice note about how what metastatic women need at this point in time was not awareness, but money to go to research.  I was polite.  I was sensible.  I was kind.

I was banned.

I then posted on facebook and requested others make the point that cancer is not about taking off bras.  

Each and every women was banned.

They care SO MUCH about breast cancer patients that they are silencing the voices of the women who die from it.

If you take a stand, if you publicly announce it, then you should be able to back it up.  You should be able to have a conversation about it.  But they have disabled all posts to page on their site (which says quite a bit about how many women disagree with them) and if you comment on something they have posted, they ban you.

How charitable.

My suggestion?  Keep that banning finger busy.  Use the link above and politely post how you feel about sexualized campaigns in which the money raised goes towards nothing useful.


Actress Wears Bra Camera to Focus on Awareness

An attractive woman with large breasts puts on a pink bra and a shirt she unbuttons to the navel, and walks around filming as eyes graze her breasts.  This ad campaign was done by Nestle to focus on awareness.

Awareness of what?  That men like to look at woman's breasts?  Awareness that if you wear a hot pink bra and an unbottoned grey shirt,  pretty much everybody is going to notice?  Awareness that we are visual creatures who look at things that are out of our ordinary daily experience?

No, it's to make you aware of cancer.

Oh, now I get it.

If Nestle has spent the costs involved in filming this video and given it to Stand Up 2 Cancer or Metavivor instead, then they might have done some good.  But no, they just took the easy way out and once again equated cancer with the area in which cancer arises.  Breasts.

Cancer is all about breasts.  Not disease, not sickness, not death.  It's breasts for men to peek at  The worst part of cancer is that we are missing breasts and men can no longer peep.

Coppa Feel Foundation

So, I've known about this one since October, and each time I read about it, it renders me speechless.  This is a campaign going on in England by the "Coppafeel" foundation.  It shows a variety of breasts on billboards, which supposedly will encourage women to do breast self-exams.

Not only that, they seem to want to have tags sewn into every bra reminding women to check their breasts.

The whole focus of this charity is early detection, which we all know by now does not prevent metastases.  Many experts believe that this whole monthly ritual of self-examination is needless - women typically feel any lumps pretty early on without it (as I did).  Despite the way this organization portrays women, as childish teenagers, we are pretty savvy to our own breasts; they are not something we ignore until cancer starts to grow.  Maybe it's different in England, but here we take showers, we wash ourselves, we feel our bodies, etc.    The name of the group, Coppafeel, is clearly not about women, but is about sexually objectifying them.  Who tries to "cop feels?"  Why, pre-teen males, of course.

So what are they trying to do?

They believe that women who find cancer early are saved, despite evidence to the contrary.  They have ignored all the issues surrounding early detection such as over-diagnosis and treatment, and have come up with cutesy slogans and hashtags with sexualized messages that hurt the dignity of women rather than help highlight that we are dealing with a horrifying and fatal disease.  They have shirts with handprints across the breast, etc. (How cute!)  It is clear that their focus is on awareness rather than women who already have cancer, as so many charities are.  It's almost like once you get the disease, you are of no importance.

Once again, and I've said this hundreds of times, we do not see tags sewn into boxers reminding men to check for testicular or penile cancer.  I suppose that it's because we imagine they are grown-ups and will notice if anything is wrong, without having to be told what to do by their clothing.

This is just another example of a terrible disease that women suffer and die from being treated like a Junior High masturbation game, with the money going towards nothing that will help a single woman.


JC Penney Ad Goes Tonedeaf on Breast Cancer.

Please click to read the article because I cannot say anything better than that writer did.


Another cancer center that thinks it's all about bras. There is some spectacular uncreativity going on here. Do they NOT understand that they are leaving out the women who do not have breasts and thus, do not wear bras?  Can they not imaging how uncomfortable that might be for a cancer center to do?

(The cancer center in my town auctions off beautiful quilts.   They do not focus on underwear.)


Komen Teams Up with Fracking Company to Create Pink Drill Bits.

In a press release that only the Onion could top, a company called Baker-Hughes has decided to distribute over 1000 pink drill bits to do their "bit" to prevent breast cancer.

I'm speechless.

From the company,

"Our hope is from the water cooler to the rig site to the coffee shop to everywhere, someone gets this information to their spouses, their girlfriends, their daughters so we can create awareness and end this disease forever,” said Bill Debo, director of operations for U.S. land drill bits at Baker Hughes.
…Each steel bit — weighing 85 to 260 pounds — is painted by hand at the company’s drill bit manufacturing facility in The Woodlands and then shipped to the drill site in a pink-topped container containing information packets with breast health facts, including breast cancer risk factors and screening tips.
The hope is that the roughneck who cracks open that container learns a little more about the disease that afflicts 200,000 women per year."
Again, I am speechless.  Something finally rendered me unable to speak.
How much did the pink paint cost?  How many man-hours did it take to paint them?  How many "roughnecks" are going to go home and say, "Oh, honey, the drill bit at work was pink, did you know about breast cancer?"
When is Marlboro coming out with cigarettes with pink filters?

I called The Breast Cancer Research Foundation a charity whore, and they are.  But they cannot top what kind of whoring Komen does.  Their legs are spread and they'll take anything for a buck, diseased or not.

Poor Susan Komen, she is rolling in her grave.  I know she hates her sister by now.  SHAME on you Nancy Brinker.  To my own sister, I know you will never be this tasteless but if you ever start a charity in my name, ETHICS FIRST!!!

Unbelievable.  This just may win my prize for the month.

My friend, Elizabeth Dale, wrote a blog post on HuffPo entitled "Why I Hate Breast Cancer Awareness Month."  She used an piece in the Sun as her starting point to elaborate all the problems with Pink October.  She touched on a number of reasons why this month is one we dread, and one of them she listed as "Corporate Self Interest" (which is on great display in my blog below) - and she lists the reasons why it is harmful.

While I highly recommend you read her article, here is a blurb from the part about corporations,

"What about the time and energy to hold thousands of walks, runs, and charitable events, backed by corporations looking to promote themselves? What about resources used to color everything pink? The question consumers should ask is how their money is best used to support research and prevention-not just more awareness."

She sent me this email from the PR firm involved, which highlights in hilarious detail their cluelessness:

"Hi Elisabeth,

I read your piece on the Huffington Post regarding why you hate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I could not agree with you more regarding The Sun’s distasteful and sexualizing campaign featuring young girls who are so far from the age of women most at risk.

Another issue that I’ve found with Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaigns is that a number of organizations use a larger percentage of money donated for their own administrative costs and payroll opposed to the cause itself. That said, I wanted to introduce you to a client of mine, Hungry Howie’s Pizza (, a top ten American pizza franchise who has committed to donating to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, an organization who has put 100 percent of the funds the brand has donated directly to early detection programs and education.

Hungry Howie’s Pizza will be continuing its commitment to Breast Cancer Awareness month for the 6th time with the Love, Hope & Pizza campaign. During the month of October, at all Hungry Howie’s Pizza locations, pizza will be served in a pink box embellished with the National Breast Cancer Foundation logo.

Additionally, for every pizza sold and for every story of love, hope and inspiration that is shared via social media; every new Facebook fan; and every photo tagged with #LOVEHOPEPIZZA; Hungry Howie’s Pizza will make a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Fans of the brand also have the ability to purchase a Love, Hope & Pizza t-shirt online for $15.99, a rubber bracelet for $1 or a reusable shopping bag for $2 with all proceeds going directly to the fight against breast cancer.

Hungry Howie’s Pizza has already raised more than $1,000,000 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s Early Detection Program over the last five year—equating to more than 10,000 mammograms and other early detection education.

I look forward to your thoughts, and I thank you for your time and consideration!


Now do you think  Shelby Lopaty from Konnect Public Relations really has a clue as to what Elizabeth's point was regarding early detection and awareness?


10/6/14 - Pink Chair

SUITE NY and Carl Hansen & Son are pleased to announce the 2014 BCRF Pink Wishbone Chair. This special edition chair is in stock and available to purchase online exclusively at SUITENY.COM
During the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, 30% of the purchase price of each chair will be donated directly to BCRF.
In addition, throughout the month of October SUITE NY will be donating 15% of the total of any purchase from our QUICKSHIP program to BCRF as well.

All my best,

Suite NY

That chair, by the way, is $600.00.  Grab some pink paint, slap it on a common mid-century chair, add a few extra 0's, find a charity whore like the BCRF, and profit. Cha Ching.

If they wanted to donate money, they could have done it without trying to get publicity, right?  

I gotta say, that chair is as ugly as a mastectomy and looks as uncomfortable.

10/5/14 - Food & Wine Magazine, Twitter Fail

If ordering cocktails would cure breast cancer, why the fug have I done all that chemotherapy and surgery?  Oh, they mean to say, it CAUSES breast cancer?  Well, they are right.

Way to try to jump on the pink publicity bandwagon, food and wine magazine.


Wearable Tattoo Mustaches

No donation offered

What says support like a moustache that says, "I heart boobs?" that is pure profit for a company called Shindigz.   If somebody doesn't wear that to visit me in hospice, I am going to be upset.  FYI:  I have writtten several reviews on this product and the company has not posted them.  Clearly, whatever reviews are on that site are not trustworthy.

Tweet @shindigz  #mycancerisnot4sale #Ineedmorethanaribbon

10/3/2014 From KSLA News12

I can't even...

KSLA is in Texas.  General Manager is James Smith. Phone is 1-318-677-6730.  Email

He says right on his webpage he wants to hear from you.  So let him hear y'all.

UPDATE:  This was sent to him by Carla Jones, cancer survivor. She wanted credit for the photo, so no need to call the GM.  Carla, here is your byline.

By the way, she states she has another dog and will proudly post another picture.  You can never have too many dogs with pink balloons on their chest, is my thought.


Buy a Rack, Save a Rack.

From an alert reader:

A local rib restaurant, the Rib and Chop House in Cheyenne, Wyoming is donating a whopping 1% of their sales of a rack of ribs to Susan G Komen.  That will likely earn Komen at least 20 bucks, huh? Of which 99.99% will be spent on pink balloons, knowing how Komen (mis)uses their money. How very generous.

Testicular Cancer Awareness month is in November, so hopefully, they are planning on serving Rocky Mountain Oysters with the come on to "Eat some balls, save some balls."

307-514-0271, manager is Wade Lancester if you want to educate a cowboy restaurateur.


Top Electronic Cigarette Brands Promote National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

South Florida’s top brand of electronic cigarettes, V2 Cigs, is inviting everyone to show their support for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a free V2 Cigs Pink Lanyard. For the entire month of October and while supplies last, a free pink lanyard will be included with orders of $50 or more. Customers are encouraged to stock up on their V2 Cigs favorites and, at the same time, stand up for breast cancer awareness and early detection.

Vapor Couture, sister brand to V2 Cigs, is also promoting National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a free gift. Vapor Couture is the only electronic cigarette brand on the market which was designed specifically for women. Customers who spend $50 or more during the month of October will receive a free VC Bracelet with a VC Charm. This stylish bracelet with charm comes in an eye-catching pink and is a great way for women to show they stand united in the fight to defeat breast cancer.

“It’s really important to us that we show our support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” says V2 Cigs and Vapor Couture Co-Founder, Dan Recio. “We love having an opportunity to give our customers a free gift while promoting a cause we really believe in.” is the #1 ranked electronic cigarette website in the United States and Internationally by, providing quality products and consistent innovation to their customers. V2 Cigs has distinguished itself as a leader in the industry for its ever-expanding product lines, powerful vapor production and great taste. V2 Cigs provides a smokeless alternative to conventional cigarettes at a fraction of the cost. For more information, please visit V2 Cigs website at

Note:  no money is donated to anything.  They just want to "support" breast cancer patients by encouraging people to draw chemical-laden vapor deep into their lungs, over and over, all day long.  That can't be hurtful or cause cancer at all, can it?  I am so grateful to know that every time I see somebody sucking on a fake cigarette attached to a pink lanyard, I know they will support me as I struggle to stay alive.

But if I ask them not to smoke it around me, what do you think the answer would be? 


V2Cigs Customer Service number is 1-877-37-VAPOR (1-877-378-2767).   They are on twitter so sometimes it's best to tweet at these companies - tell them #mycancerisnot4sale and remind them they are likely to be causing a whole new crop of cancer patients, not supporting them in their "battle."


Hi Ann,

How are you? I wanted to reach out to you with a unique media opportunity for your blog. No. 6-ranked light-heavyweight (205-pounds) UFC contender Phil Davis is as well known for his support of Breast Cancer Awareness as he is his skills inside of the Octagon.

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, and Phil having a fight at UFC 179 on October 25, I thought it’d be a cool feature for your readers to hear Phil’s story and the way in which he supports the cause. Sporting pink fight shorts and a pink mouth guard year round, Phil uses his platform to spread awareness and show support for his family members that have been affected by the disease.

The 30-year-old has a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Penn State University where he was a Div. I NCAA National Champion wrestler, four-time All-American and two-time Big Ten Champion. As such, he is one of the most accomplished wrestlers in the sport of mixed martial arts.

Here is an article done a few years ago about Phil and his support of Breast Cancer Awareness:

I’d love to make Phil available to you for an interview between now and his fight. Please feel free to give me a call at 702-XXX-XXXX to discuss more in depth.




So let me get this straight....we are supposed to watch this guy beat the crap out of somebody else, while he wears pink....all to support breast cancer patients?   Do you feel supported, ladies and gentlemen?  Or, could it be that he is wearing pink shorts and a pink mouthguard and sending out a press release about it because he wants to support....himself?  (I see nothing about money being donated, yo)


From the Chicago Tribune by Barbara Brotman

Bra sculpture aims to raise breast cancer awareness

"Pioneer Court, which for a time housed a huge statue of the actress, will be home Wednesday to another oversized sculpture — a bright pink, 16-foot bra.

The bra, a vertically-hanging soft sculpture, is being placed there for the day by Advocate Health Care as part of its Stories of the Girls campaign to encourage women to seek early detection of breast cancer.

"Over 230,000 women are going to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year; nearly 40,000 will die. We just felt the need to raise awareness of early detection," said Kelly Jo Golson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Advocate Health Care.

"It really required something big to deliver this life-saving message with impact across the city," she said.

At 1,500 pounds, the bra qualifies.

The bra also pays tribute to the physicians, family members and friends who help breast cancer patients through treatment.

"We're calling it our 'support bra,' " Golson said." bra....get it?

Subtlety is not the City of Chicago's specialty, it would seem.  Nor is sensitivity.   Why is this connection made, between bras and cancer?  Why on earth would *anybody* think this is something we could possibly find comforting as we face a terminal diagnosis?  Why does the undergarment that covers the area where our cancer arises become so important in awareness activities?  We do not have underpants statues for Anal Cancer, do we?  And, what about prostate?  Maybe boxers for anal and briefs for prostate?

Well, it did made me think.  Every year, I get my doctor a silly tie as a Christmas gift.  It never occurred to me that a bra would just as easily be a good gift of thanks.  What do you think, Dr. B?  Which brand would be show my gratefulness to you as the man who helped me through treatment?  Victoria's Secret or Maidenform?  What's your preference?


An alert reader sent me photos of this disgusting campaign at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando.

It seems their campaign is "in bed for a cause." and they have a woman, lying enticingly in a bed, legs in the air with a come fug me look on her face. Then they have a bed in the lobby made up with pink sheets.

They have a variety of events designed to bring "awareness" to the cause of breast cancer, including a special cocktail - alcohol is a known cause of breast cancer:

They say,

"Hard Rock is also "raising the bar" for the cause with special limited-time beverage offerings, including "Flight for the Cure," a flight of Hard Rock's pink margaritas – Watermelon, Pomegranate and Wildberry – served with pink tortilla chips and house-made salsa. Other featured PINKTOBER drinks include Hard Rock's new Red Berry Press, a sweet fruit cocktail served in a coffee-press style vessel that infuses fruit into the cocktail throughout the drinking process and a fresh, non-alcoholic Wildberry Smoothie."

The entire month is full of undignified "events" that do not acknowledge the pain and suffering that we, who have this disease, go through and die from -  and it perpetuates the myth of early detection as being the most important puzzle piece in cancer survival.

Hamish Dodds is the President and CEO of Hard Rock hotel. Corporate headquarters and phone number is:

6100 Old Park Lane
Orlando, FL 32835
Phone: (407) 445-ROCK
Phone Toll Free US & Canada: 1-(888)-519-6683

Write them a letter or call, tell them that you are sick and tired of the sexualization of disease. Cancer should never be about the body part in which it arises, but about what cancer does to those who suffer from it. Women who undergo breast cancer treatment, and those who die from breast cancer, deserve dignity, not "come hither" advertising, with half open bathrobes and spread legs. Tell them it is not a party or celebration with chips and salsa, and that awareness is a myth. Explain that you know this is just a marketing opportunity for their brand and has nothing to do with cancer, and it disgusts you. Tell them until this campaign is handled with dignity you will never visit or eat at a Hard Rock property again.

Can you imagine, going into the bar and ordering this pink cancer drink (that causes cancer in susceptible people) and eating pink cancer chips.  How low can we go??

FYI:  This is what it really looks like when you go to bed with cancer:

Shame on them.

UPDATE!  I received this woman who worked for the Hard Rock and was fired after her cancer diagnoses,

Does Hard Rock’s Pinktober have a face?

Yes. Mine.

My name is Petya Petrova.

In 2010, my husband, Jordan, and I received job offers from the Casino Manager at the soon-to-open Hard Rock Punta Cana Casino. Set on one of the Dominican Republic’s most beautiful beaches, the resort was being energized by Hard Rock , with all the dazzle and glamour that go hand-in-hand with this iconic brand. We were excited to be part of the opening team, with the promise of solid employment and life in paradise. I didn’t realize at the time that I was embarking on what would become a personal nightmare.

There was wonderful camaraderie and an upbeat feeling in the early days. Our co-workers were lovely and we believed that we were all part of something special. Jordan and I loved our jobs. I was a pit boss (or pit manager) and Jordan eventually was promoted to casino shift manager.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. My treatment involved surgery (mastectomy), 28 radiation therapies and 6 chemotherapy treatments, all successfully concluded during my medical leave of absence. The thought of living a happy, productive life kept me going throughout this ordeal. I was excited about returning to my job at Hard Rock Punta Cana and driven by the desire to be back to normality. In my heart I felt I had "beaten" cancer, although I continue treatment and evaluation. I proudly wore my Hard Rock Pinktober pin on my blouse every day, as I prepared to go back on the casino floor.

After several months back on the job, I was fired on October 4, 2013. To my surprise and disappointment, this occurred at the start of October, a very special month for all women who, like me, have struggled and survived. The Hard Rock Casino General Manager responsible for my dismissal and the Human Resource Manager offered me a severance payment which was both inaccurate and miscalculated, according to the labor laws of the country. The attitude with which it was presented was one of take it or leave it and i was told I had to sign my acceptance immediately or the deal was off the table. I did not accept their terms.

My husband had also been fired without explanation, prior to my dismissal, and I couldn't help but feel that we had both been discarded by the casino's current manager. We were not offered airfare home to our native Bulgaria and were basically left jobless and stranded. This insensitive and abusive behavior was a terrible shock to me, in the middle of my treatment and recovery. With no means of support, we decided to return home to Sofia, Bulgaria.

I filed a lawsuit in the Dominican labor court against the casino company and Hard Rock and subsequently traveled 36 hours, from Bulgaria, to attend the hearing. Against the advice of my doctors, I insisted on being present at the court out of respect and because I believed in my justifiable claim. I wanted all present to put a face to my name.

To add insult to injury, the Hard Rock casino lawyers claimed in court that the reason for my dismissal was that I did not do my job. This claim was documented in a letter from the casino Human Resource Director. Fortunately, we were able to present testimony from a number of witnesses to refute that claim. Good people, including medical doctors, other employees and clients, stood up for me.

After his deliberations concluded, the judge ruled in my favor, acknowledging the validity of my lawsuit. My correct severance was paid, although we had to resort to coercive legal measures to obtain payment.

My appeal has now been filed for damages. I know this entire process has taken a significant toll on my health, both physically and emotionally. I have medical affidavits to prove this. It is still difficult to believe that a company I trusted and to which I gave my best efforts would fire me without just cause and attempt to destroy any chance I might have of future employment by defaming my professional competence.

My work was an important part of my recovery. For all the pretty posters and t -shirts, pink bathrobes and guitar pins, it seems the company's support of Pink October does not include standing by one of its own employees, in her ongoing efforts to return to a productive life and to deal with this terrible disease and its long-term consequences.

Regardless of the outcome, I believe I am the true face of Hard Rock's "Pinktober". Corporations have a moral responsibility towards their employees and ethical conduct is fundamental to building from within and keeping the brand alive. Behind the guitar logo, there's a whole bunch of people….employees like me.

As a breast cancer survivor, I hope women everywhere will hear my story and wear a pink ribbon for us all. Let's join together to remind corporations that we are real people, not a marketing tool. This is not about a single job, a catchy slogan like "take time to be kind" or an imaginary "vibe". . .It's about women standing proud.

I am Petya Petrova and yes, I am Pink October Strong.

I would like to thank you for the interest of my story and your help sharing it.


This is not a PR letter but a terrible campaign nonetheless:

This is from University Hospital Seidman Cancer Center.  They have an October "get your mammogram" drive that they titled, "Woman Up."

As in, be a woman and do the right thing and get your mammogram.

While I won't argue with their focus as a hospital (despite popular belief, I'm not anti-mammogram, I just believe they are over-inflated in today's society), I do argue with the "Woman Up" logo and the tons of pink on their page and the joyous "we are in this together vibe" which destroys the reality of cancer.  Mostly, as a cancer center, they ought to realize that men get breast cancer too, and in fact, men probably are the ones surprised that they get it.  A "man up, get your mammogram" approach might be more useful.

Find me a woman in this country that doesn't know she is supposed to get a mammogram.

One. I be you can't.  In fact, I'm tempted to stand on a street corner for a day and ask this question.  Hmmm.....

Curious to know what my male friends who get breast cancer think about this logo.  

Hi Ann,
My name is Kristen and I’m an Inbound Marketing Coordinator at SaleAMP, an internet marketing agency located in Austin, Texas. One of my clients is Johnny Carino’s, an authentic Italian restaurant chain.
We are looking to partner with you to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Young Survivor Coalition. We would love if you could simply add a banner to your site throughout the month of October to encourage your readers to check out Johnny Carino's Big Crush Campaign, which helps “crush out cancer” with these amazing organizations and also gets your readers some great freebies and discounts! Johnny Carino’s patrons who donate $2 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation will receive a $5 gift card. Also, glasses of wine will be just $5 every day of the week during the promotion.
Since 1997, the Carino's Foundation has raised and donated more than $2.7 million to charities and organizations that serve local communities. Johnny Carino’s did a similar promotion to this one around Mother’s Day, and thanks to websites like yours raising awareness, it was able to donate over $25,000 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
More than 40,000 women die of breast cancer every year. It is bloggers like you who help spread awareness and truly make a difference in finding a cure for this horrible disease. I’m sure we all know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Let’s join together and help out an amazing cause!
I would like to provide you with our Big Crush campaign banner to display on your blog throughout October to encourage your readers to check out Big Crush and see what it’s all about! This is a great opportunity to give back to the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the Young Survivor Coalition while getting some tasty incentives from Johnny Carino’s.
Please let me know if you’re interested in participating in this amazing campaign and I will send the banner over to you to place on your blog. I look forward to hearing from you.



Dear Kristen,

Basically, you want me to advertise a restaurant for free?  Worse, you want me to advertise that people should buy alcohol, a known risk factor in breast cancer?  And you think I'm willing to do it because I have a cancer blog (named I Hate Pink, by the way) and thus I MUST support ANY breast cancer charity no matter what they do?

You have never read my blog, have you?

FYI:  I am one of those 40k women who will die of breast cancer.  And, most of us find these kinds of campaigns incredibly insensitive and it is TIME that you PR firms understand our viewpoint.  You all walk in little straight pink lines without an inch of creativity.



ACTION ITEM:  Please contact Johnny Carino's and tell them that selling alcohol to promote breast cancer awareness does the exact opposite, and that drinking alcohol is linked to breast cancer, particularly triple negative.  Please tweet this post out with #mycancerisnot4sale.  And, finally, be aware that the National Breast Cancer Foundation will do just about anything or accept anything for their charity.  If they cared about women with cancer, they would not accept money from the sales of alcohol.  These are the same people who were involved with the scandalous "motorboating" campaign of last year.    The Young Survival Coalition is purely and educational charity and donates nothing to research.  Their focus, like the Keep a Breast foundation, seems to be green initiatives.  And it seems funny that people who are worried about chemicals causing cancer would also be promoting drink specials, eh?