Sunday, March 26, 2017

My Breast Cancer Journey: Mammogram and MRI Experience [Video]



Welp, It's been a couple weeks since I revealed to the world my Breast Cancer diagnosis.  Since I first learned of my diagnosis, I've decided to switch Breast Surgeons and have a second pathology opinion.  Since the switch I've felt more confident with my care and treatment plan. This breast surgeon is part of an entire cancer team at a great hospital.  On our initial visit she made me aware of a Pathologist at the hospital that specializes in breast tissue (and breast cancer diagnosis) and immediately made a request for the tissue samples taken by the hospital that performed my biopsy was sent out.  Also she recommended that I see a Medical Oncologist (MO) that is part of her team.  I have no plans on dropping the Oncologist that I have found on my own, but I have agreed to an appointment with the MO.  Various looks, perspectives and knowledge can't hurt in this situation.  She also actually addressed my Lymphedema concerns and said that they have therapists that specialize in prevention, treatment and maintenance of Lymphedema that I would be introduced to closer to the date of surgery.

My new Breast Surgeon also suggested a treatment plan, (which I will make an entire post on later).  First step was to continue with diagnostic procedures: the second opinion on pathology, a mammogram and breast MRI.  The pathology results are pending.  The imaging, I spent an entire Friday afternoon handling.

The mammogram included 3D imaging and was not at all what I expected (Luckily)!  I was so afraid of the mammogram!! I called the Breast Surgeon a few days prior to the appointment and asked her if we could just skip the mammo.  She eased my fears and I found myself in a room getting the gentle squeeze around 12:30 on a Friday. Absolutely no pain!  It was fabulous, ladies!  DO NOT BE AFRAID!  

If you've been putting off mammograms because of fear of a terrible squeeze, don't fear.  Seriously.  I think that maybe if you talk to the technician performing the mammo, and voice your apprehension and fears, he/she may be able to prepare you for what to expect and this may also cause him/her to be mindful of your concerns and to work in a manner which eases those concerns.

The MRI?.. that was uncomfortable.  Took a total of 40 minutes or so from when I was called to the back to when I was all done.  The way the body is positioned for the MRI made it a bit nightmarish for me.

If you want to hear all about my experience check out this vid:





 Please donate to my Breast Cancer Care Fund (click link) or visit www.youcaring.com/MyBreastCancerBattle



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Red iPhone 7 Coming Soon!


Beautiful!

Apple is releasing the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in a gorgeous matte red.  Orders can be made beginning at 8:01 AM, Pacific Time on Friday, March 24th.

A portion of proceeds from every red iPhone purchased will contribute to the (RED) Global Fund in the continued fight for an AIDS-free generation. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

My Latest Life Battle: Breast Cancer [Video]



Eek!!!

Breast. Cancer.

This Friday will be 3 weeks since my diagnosis.  At the young, sweet, tender age of 34 I've been given this scary diagnosis.  When I got the news and many days later, even now to an extent, I just felt lost: uninformed and blind and unsure.  It's like with any fight, you enter the battle thinking you can win.  That you have a chance.  And sometimes you are in the midst of the event and realize maybe you're in over your head.  Maybe this win isn't as sure as you once thought it to be.

With the diagnosis so fresh, I'd say about 99% of my thoughts are positive.  I just learned who/what the opponent is and I know some people (doctors) that have good tools and techniques to help me in the fight.  Mostly, I feel confident, aside from the anxiety of wanting to just get on with the fight so I can slink away exhausted with my battle scars much sooner rather than later.  But it's a process.  There's more consultations and scans to be had and opinions to be made at this point.

And then there's that 1% of thoughts that creep in.  The thoughts of "What if I do all this and it's for nothing?" or "Does chemo really do more harm than good?  And what other choice do I have?" and a few more that all have to do with mortality.

I actually have an aunt that was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in the mid-90's.  She's still alive and well today.  But I take her outcome with a grain of salt.  Cancer seems to be tricky.  It seems that more often than not, no two outcomes are the same.

So, it's a lot that I try not to worry about.  Daily I begin sticking it in the far back corner of my mind.  But by mid-day I usually have several internet tabs open reading research papers, excerpts from scientific journals, and of course stories from survivors.

I sleep well knowing that ultimately, what will be will be.

I will be vlogging throughout this journey.  Here is my first video detailing my lump discovery up to present-day.  (Gotta warn you, it's a long one.)


Friday, March 3, 2017

Why Moonlight Won



If Barry Jenkins' Oscar-winning film, Moonlight, were a meal, it would fall into the category of the type that "sticks to your ribs".  It's not Chilean Sea Bass drizzled with a butter sauce, complemented with freakishly skinny carrots that remind you of the Grinch's fingers and the obligatory sprigs of parsley on a bone china plate.  It's more like a plate of tender roast beef and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy with a side of string beans.  It sticks with you.

I didn't catch Moonlight while it was in theaters.  At the time, getting to the movies was something that I just couldn't seem to fit into my schedule.  So, I kept a reminder on my phone, set it for bi-weekly alerts, "Moonlight on iTunes".  Finally, it was available for purchase.  I bought and watched.  This was only 2 days prior to the infamous Oscar flub in which the movie walked out victorious.

I watched once and I thought about it all day after viewing.  Aretha Franklin's "One Step Ahead" replayed over and over in my head.  Scenes from the movie flashed in my mind.  I had to watch again.  The very next night was my second viewing.  With that, my suggestion to family and friends became fervent.  Every conversation, "Oh my God! Have you seen Moonlight?!.. You have to see it!"  "Rent Moonlight, or come over and watch it!"  Never one for company, I was legit handing out invitations.  I wanted everyone to see this movie!  Even when I couldn't quite put my finger on what was so intriguing about it.

And then the Oscars came and the picture earned an award for Best Picture of the Year!  And I'm all like, "I knew it!" Some may not agree, put this picture is too good!  This is a picture that opens with the words "Every nigga is a star!" In the hood.  An entire black cast.  The story of a young boy (Chiron) growing up with a single mother that is addicted to crack, the man (Juan) that provided him some sort of guidance killed by the time he reaches his late teen years... A gay black boy growing up in the projects.  Not fitting in with the norm in his environment.  A story of reinvention.  A story that reminds us all that underneath it all, "You are who you are".  Period.

Moonlight is so relatable. And that is what gives it this adhesive property.  It strikes a chord with people from all backgrounds.  The Moonlight-lovers aren't all gay black males from the hood that faced Chiron's exact obstacles, but many can relate to family drama and shame, being the target of a bully and/or not wanting to be themselves at some point in life.

How many people have heard it said about them, or maybe they have said it about someone else, "He/she wasn't like that in high school."?  Just as Kevin pointed out with Chiron's change from a slim, meek kid that was bullied at school as well as at home to a grown chiseled man wearing du-rags and gold grills, chains and watches.  Juan was probably the epitome of what a man is to young Chiron.  Juan got respect unlike the young Chiron and when he got older, as Juan once told him, he had to figure out who he wanted to be and that's what he chose.

We all choose, whether we realize it or not.  As we go through life we adapt to our environment as well as adopt traits and characteristics that we find favorable.  Especially as kids.  By the time we are adults, we've blossomed into this being that is a result of all of that.  And as we age there comes a time that we realize we have to find our true happiness regardless of what society deems acceptable or cool.

That's what Moonlight feeds you.

I've watched it a total of four times now in less than a week.  If you have not yet seen it, click the link to purchase or rent from iTunes: MOONLIGHT