NBCF Blog, Stories from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, INC

Mammograms: Important Today and Every Day

Today is National Mammography Day.  It’s been 21 years since President Clinton proclaimed the third Friday of October as National Mammography Day.  Since that time, social media, reality television, cause marketing campaigns and celebrity influencers have all joined the conversation.  This is exciting because these tools all can be harnessed to support the original goal of National Mammography Day—to remind women to schedule their annual mammogram.  Times have changed, but the importance of mammography has not.  “Mammography is the only available screening method that has been shown to reduce breast cancer mortality,” according to the National Cancer Institute.   

Here at the National Breast Cancer Foundation, we agree that a reminder to schedule your mammogram is vitally important.  That is why we created the Early Detection Plan which reminds women of all ages to complete their monthly breast self-exam and to schedule their annual clinical breast exams and mammograms according to age and family history.  The Early Detection Plan is FREE and available online as well as in app-based versions for both iOS and Android, so download yours today!

However, for many women, getting a mammogram includes a bigger challenge than just needing the reminder; there are thousands of women who have difficulty accessing these life-saving screenings due to lack of funds or insurance coverage.  That is why NBCF created the National Mammography Program.  Through the help of our partner hospitals, we are making a difference in all 50 states by providing free mammograms and diagnostic breast care services to underserved women.  Additionally, all of the participating facilities are equipped and committed to providing treatment after an abnormal finding or diagnosis of breast cancer.

If you have questions about mammography, please consult your doctor.  If you would like to join us in Helping Women Now, please consider making a donation or starting a fundraiser.  Thank you for supporting NBCF today and every day!

*Source: http://appliedresearch.cancer.gov/research/highlights/recallrates.html

Survivor Story: Jo Ann Timberlake

Most National Breast Cancer Foundation supporters know that our Founder and CEO, Janelle Hail, is a 34-year breast cancer survivor.   However, we’re blessed to count another breast cancer survivor, Jo Ann Timberlake, our Director of Compliance, among our NBCF family.

You might think those of us who work for NBCF are entirely on top of our own breast health, but we’re busy people too and sometimes we need a friendly reminder just like you.  For Jo Ann, that reminder came in the fall of 2008, when she participated in employee beta testing of our Early Detection Plan and realized she was overdue for her own mammogram while logging her medical history.  Shortly after Jo Ann received her past-due mammogram, a sonogram and biopsy revealed that she had breast cancer.  She says she’ll never forget the phone call she received one Friday afternoon or how NBCF’s entire executive team immediately offered her emotional support and prayer.  She experienced first hand our team’s commitment to helping women affected by the disease.  

Still, Jo Ann, like so many breast cancer patients, faced a long weekend with many questions.  It was during that time, that she found NBCF’s breast cancer educational content and online community of patients and survivors to be invaluable.  These Beyond the Shock resources helped Jo Ann cope until she could see her doctor.

Jo Ann began to journal as a way to show her husband, Bob and adult children, Laura and Daniel, that she relied on God and valued people, no matter what might happen.  She also made a commitment to sharing her story with other women so she could encourage them to be proactive about their breast health.   Fortunately, Jo Ann’s cancer was found in an early stage and successfully treated over the next 9 months through lumpectomy, radiation and hormone therapy.  We are so thankful Jo Ann survived and remains a member of our NBCF family. 

Jo Ann credits NBCF’s Early Detection Plan with saving her life.  If you’ve not yet created an Early Detection Plan, please do so today.  It is free and it just might just save your life too.

Living Well with Jody: It’s Not All or Nothing

image

Most of us want to be fit and healthy, but often, finding the time for a hardcore workout can be a challenge.  You see your friends posting their cross-training selfies six times per week and it can feel intimidating and impossible to live up to.  When things get especially busy, it’s tempting to let your workout routine go altogether.  However, it’s important to remember that a short yet challenging workout of just 20 minutes can make a difference if you give it 100% effort!  Here are a few fun ways to keep moving, even when life’s demands get crazy:

  • Cut the Commute: Purchase a workout DVD series of 20-30 minute workouts.  These are perfect for someone who wants to work out, but can’t steal away to the gym for an hour. There are a wide variety of at home workout programs, but the key is to find one that interests you and promise to do it. 
  • Mix it Up: If boredom is your problem, social media can help you get out of your rut.  Search Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, blogs, and websites for creative workout routines.  Look for “WOD’s” or “workouts of the day” for inspiration. 
  • Make it a Party: Make it fun and keep yourself accountable by working out with friends. Find a small group—at work, a moms’ group, church, etc.—and commit to a seasonal group challenge.
  • Have a Goal:  Pick an event or challenge to work toward.  Perhaps you can train for a local race in your area as a great way to stay active.
  • Keep it Simple: When you only have a few minutes, never underestimate the value of a few squats, lunges, crunches, push-ups, and jumping jacks. These classic exercises will work muscles, burn calories, and get your heart rate up enough to get you through to the next day.

Try one or several of these tips and see what works for you.  Don’t worry about what you’re not doing; focus on each workout as a step in the right direction and a small victory.  Remember, any workout is better than no workout!

Jody Feil, NBCF Wellness Specialist

*The views expressed in “Living Well with Jody” are Jody’s personal opinions based on her passion for healthy nutrition and fitness.

Sponsors Show Support During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

National Breast Cancer Foundation is blessed with many incredible sponsors who support us in the important work we are doing to Help Women Now.  During the month of October, many of these sponsors implement special promotions to engage their customers and partners in raising awareness of breast cancer and help fund NBCF’s programs which serve women in need.  Here are just a few of the many cool things happening during 2014’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

  • Jamba Juice will reward its customers for their donations to NBCF with a coupon for a future visit and will feature their signature Pink Whirl Smoothie in support of Breast Cancer Awareness.
  • Our friends at Hanes are again featuring bloggers who share their mammogram experiences with the goal of helping women overcome their own fears and anxieties about this potentially life-saving screening.
  • Bandai-Namco games, creators of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man are inviting gamers to #JointhePac by downloading a limited edition Ms. Pac-Man Pink Maze with all proceeds benefiting NBCF.
  • Meanwhile, P.F. Changs will paint their iconic horses pink for the entire month.  When you share a selfie with the horses, using the hashtag #PaintPFChangsPink, or enjoy a sushi roll, you will help NBCF earn $1, up to $100,000.
  • GoDaddy and Danica Patrick invited supporters to “Put the Brakes on Cancer”, by giving racing fans the opportunity to donate to NBCF at GoDaddy.com/donate and for a limited time, add a loved one’s name to Danica’s car for her Martinsville race.  Danica’s car is also featuring NBCF’s logo for several September and October races.
  • We are breathing in the fragrance of hope as Scentsy has renewed their support of NBCF with a pink and black “Ribbons of Hope” warmer.  $7 from each warmer sold will benefit NBCF.
  • GNC will again feature specially marked products for Breast Cancer Awareness in addition to inviting customers to make a point-of-sale donation to NBCF and receive a coupon as thanks.
  • adidas has launched their “All Fight” pink apparel line which promotes an active and fit lifestyle while providing customers a way to wear their commitment to hope and changing lives on their sleeve.  adidas will give NBCF $10 for each $100 in net sales of this product.
  • Our friends at Pink Ribbon Produce are once again making a donation to NBCF with the support of their grocery and produce partners but are also promoting something near and dear to our hearts—healthy eating—through their “Fresh Plate Challenge”.  Supporters are encouraged to fill half of their plate with fresh fruits and vegetables in order to lower their risk of cancer.  The campaign includes an Instagram photo contest using hashtags #donateNBCF, #freshplate and #pinkribbon. Contest winners will receive a retailer gift card and a donation to NBCF in their name.
  • JCPenney is inviting customers to round-up their purchases to the nearest dollar during the month of October to benefit JCPenney Cares’ commitment to promoting breast cancer awareness.  NBCF has been selected as one of two charitable partners in the efforts of JCPenney Cares to make a difference for the cause of breast cancer awareness. 

To read more about NBCF’s programs and other sponsor campaigns, be sure to like and follow us on Facebook!

Navigating Breast Cancer

Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. You can have a stable income, health insurance, and a supportive family or be under supported and without primary insurance. Although every cancer diagnosis is not without hardships, it is safe to assume that the latter includes additional barriers. How do you get to your treatment without a car? How can you afford childcare to go and receive chemotherapy? How will you breakdown the language barrier to understand what the doctors are saying? The list can be endless.

This is where caring women like Evelyn Rosales come in. Evelyn, a Patient Navigator at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, TX, has dedicated her life to helping women obtain resources and overcome the obstacles of breast cancer. “Each day I see about 20-30 women,” says Evelyn. This includes helping women get signed up to come in for their mammograms, spending time counseling women on their diagnosis, and translating the findings to help women plan out the next steps in their treatment. “It can be very emotional,” says Evelyn of her time with the women. “Each day brings new surprises; mostly we try to smile a lot here so that women aren’t fearful.”

image

Each year, the National Breast Cancer Foundation gives approximately $970,000 in grants to support 24 Patient Navigators at partner hospitals across the U.S. “At Parkland, these grants help free the radiologist and gives us efficiency in our day to enable more patients.” This means that more women are being screened and ultimately, more lives are being saved. Additionally, Evelyn notes that the grants help her “develop an ongoing relationship with the Oncology clinic, nurses in other departments, and breast surgeons.” This has helped to allow women who have been diagnosed to see a surgeon in as little as two weeks!

Evelyn’s other accomplishments include reducing the time between a woman’s mammogram and a woman’s biopsy to only 15 days. Evelyn’s success stems from her unique ability to relate to the women who visit Parkland Hospital. It is all about “building a relationship before the biopsy,” she says. “I am able to get women to trust me, let me answer her questions, address her fears, discuss her options, and offer a hug… sometimes those ‘treatments’ are the best kind in the road to recovery.”

Patient Navigation is an integral part in a woman’s survival. Without this program, many underserved women would be lost during the process. Evelyn Rosales, as well as our other Patient Navigators, are part of the pathway to treatment and ultimately survival.

To give directly to NBCF’s Patient Navigation Program, please participate in North Texas Giving Day. On Thursday, September 18th, visit our special link listed below and donate!

NBCF.org/GivingDay2014

All donations of $25 or more will be applied towards available bonus funds. On this day only, your donation will be going directly toward these Patient Navigators. For more information or questions, please contact: fundraising@nbcf.org. Thank you for supporting the National Breast Cancer Foundation!

Living Well with Jody: Antioxidants Made Easy

It’s never a bad time to add more antioxidants to your meals! We’ve all heard about antioxidants, but what are they really? According to the National Cancer Institute, antioxidants are chemicals that interact with and neutralize free radicals. In other words, antioxidants can help fight the effects of these damaging free radicals. Our bodies naturally create some antioxidants, but we rely on food for the rest of the antioxidants we need.

Examples of foods with antioxidants include: tomatoes, berries, peaches, kale, plums, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cantaloupe, corn, spinach, cherries, nuts, wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, legumes, chicken, eggs, garlic, onions, salmon, tuna, dark chocolate, artichoke hearts, ground cloves and many more.

Here’s a colorful three course meal that is rich in antioxidants and easy to make. Enjoy!

Antioxidant Salad with Lemon Dressing

image

Stuffed Bell Peppers

image

Raspberry and Chocolate Chip Dessert

image

For more great recipes and healthy living tips, follow us on Pinterest.

The View From Above

As we attempt to navigate the many highs and lows that life brings us, we can often fall victim to tunnel vision. We only see the immediate problem ahead, and we neglect to remember that the view from above holds a much better perspective.  Like so, a woman’s battle with breast cancer may feel like she is idly moving.  However, from above, there is hope and you may be just one step closer to the finish line.

Operation Pink Sky, the annual event held at Chicagoland Skydiving Center, uses their mile-high perspective to raise donations for NBCF through skydiving. The day is filled with both experienced jumpers as well as first-time jumpers, some of who jumped for free as a reward for meeting a fundraising goal! T-shirts, a raffle, and a party that evening continued to help raise donations.

Becky Johns, Director of Marketing and Communications for Chicagoland, first started the fundraiser due to breast cancer affecting so many of their staff’s families. Becky says “Personally, it is important to me to continue to try to grow the event because my mom and both her sisters are breast cancer survivors.” Although Becky is one of the luckier individuals who didn’t lose her loved ones, she still wants to play her part so that “others may be able to enjoy additional years with their mothers, aunts, sisters, etc.” As for her reasoning on choosing NBCF, Becky comments, “We chose NBCF because of its focus on patients and their families. We know a support network is an important part of fighting the cancer battle and healing.”

Operation Pink Sky just finished their 4th year fundraising for NBCF. We are thankful for their loyal support and innovative fundraising ideas!

For more information on how NBCF helps patients as well as their families, please visit our programs: Beyond the Shock and Early Detection Plan. Or, start your own fundraiser!

image

National Hospital Week: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Beverly Koster was blindsided by her breast cancer diagnosis in 2011. The mother of three – and grandmother of 10 – had no family history of cancer, though up until 2008, she followed the advice of her primary care physician and scheduled her annual mammography exams. Things changed when she lost her job. Without insurance, the New Hampshire native no longer had the ability to pay for routine care. Forced to prioritize expenses, she stopped scheduling the exam.

In 2011, as a newly-hired temporary employee at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, she learned about Dana-Farber’s Mammography Van. Reluctant to ask for time off of work, she was struck by the convenience of the van, and though she had not been experiencing any symptoms, she reached out to inquire about an appointment. Comforted to learn that she could be seen regardless of her insurance or income status, Beverly scheduled an appointment. A few weeks later, she was diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast Cancer. Fortunately, her prognosis was good. Three years later, Beverly is cancer-free, though she still shudders at the memory of learning that she had cancer. “Even though I knew there had been real progress in cancer treatment, I still associated cancer with death. I was forced to face my own mortality.”

Now a full-time employee in Dana-Farber’s Community Benefits Office, which oversees the Mammography Van, Beverly continues to make the daily four-hour commute to Dana-Farber each day. Asked why, she credits the van with saving her life and a desire to pay it forward. “If Dana-Farber hadn’t had the van, it would have been at least a year, if not 18 months before I would have scheduled an appointment. Who knows what might have happened. This made such a difference in my life, so I don’t mind committing my time to this commute. I feel like I’m giving back and helping others in some way.”

A Cord of 7 Strands

We all know the phrase “a cord of 3 strands is not easily broken”, but 7 strands?  That is surely impossible to break! Team Green Ops, made up of seven Operation Managers from across the U.S., is as strong as that cord. The group first met back in 2012 at a leadership conference and has since met each year in various cities attending additional conventions. Over the years they have become close friends, and look forward to traveling to new parts of the U.S. together.

Last year, Green Ops member Dave Halperin found out his sister, Sarah Horn, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive type of breast cancer. He was instantly surrounded by these 6 teammates to support him. They realized their next meeting in San Francisco was the same weekend as the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon. The 7 agreed to sign up and raise donations for The National Breast Cancer Foundation in honor of Sarah.

As the race grew closer, it wasn’t only the training that sped up. Donations were soaring in and the support Dave felt was unmeasurable. Sadly, in January of this year, Sarah lost her battle with breast cancer at the young age of 35.  Dave’s unwavering strength continued as he and the group continued to train and remain strong. On April 6th, with Sarah in mind, all 7 members ran the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon and crossed the finish line. It was a proud moment for these 7 friends, as they were able to honor Sarah and accomplish their goal together. Green Ops raised a total of $9,220 for women in need!

In any tribulation, it is the people that you surround yourself with that help encourage and sustain your faith. Dave’s wonderful support cord of 7 friends was able to graciously honor the life of his sister, Sarah, and create a memory rooted in their brotherhood.

 To join this group in the fight against breast cancer and to honor the memory of Sarah Horn, please visit their fundraising page, or start your own fundraiser!  

To read Sarah’s blog about her journey, visit: http://www.hornlink.blogspot.com/

Living Well with Jody: Exercise Quick Tips

Exercise is good for you, right? This is what we have been told by everyone from our parents, doctors, PE teachers, trainers and even friends. But how good?

According to the National Cancer Institute, exercising four or more hours a week may help lower your breast cancer risk. This is terrific news and just by making little changes to your daily schedule, you can easily get four hours of exercise in each week.

 A few quick tips to incorporate throughout your day could include:

- Parking further away from the entrance of the supermarket

- Taking the stairs instead of using the elevator at the office

- Walking the dog for 20 more minutes

- Walking the perimeter of the field instead of sitting and watching your kids sporting practice

- Playing with your kids on the playground instead of sitting on the bench

- Switching your coffee date to a walking date

So lace up your tennis shoes and get out and enjoy the glorious spring sunshine!

Written by Jody Feil, NBCF Wellness Specialist
*The views expressed in “Living Well with Jody” are Jody’s personal opinions based on her passion for healthy nutrition and fitness.