Saturday, November 28, 2009

Save the Tatas


I don't recall how I found out about the save the tatas company.  I know they were on The Vic McCarty show when I was going through treatment, and I liked their message. Yes cancer is serious business, being diagnosed and going to doctor visits and chemo and radiation for months at a time can take a toll on anyone.

That is why I like the Save the Tatas mission and message:

Laughter heals.  Of course.  I have blogged about my positive mental attitude and wicked sense of humor.  If I didn't have that I probably wouldn't have gotten through treatment.  Recently we had founder of Save the Tatas Julia Field Fikse on the Vic McCarty show.  She was telling us a story about her wearing the shirt below:

She told us this funny story about walking in Pasadena, CA and a car screeched right by her, and a guy yelled out of his car, I totally was!!!!  What a great story.  What a great message. I love the fact that they bring humor to breast cancer awareness. I am for anything that brings humor and a positive message to an important cause.

Its always surprising, when you are going through treatment, what will bring a smile to your face.  Save the Tatas did that and continues to do that for me now that i am post treatment and into survivorship.

One of my favorite products from Save the Tatas is Boob Lube.  Now I know what you are thinking and you can get your mind right out of the gutter.  It's the original breast check soap. It is a fun reminder for you to do your monthly breast self exams.

There are lots of companies out there that promote breast cancer awareness, but I haven't seen one as fun as Save the Tatas.

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty show. Listen live Monday-Friday eastern standard time on

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on available on demand now

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What are you thankful for?

Thanksgiving. A day off of work for most.  A day to spend with family, watch football and eat, eat eat.

Every family has their own tradition.  Doug and I go out to eat with his Dad and Uncle at the Perry Hotel, they put on a fantastic buffet and it is well known in the area for its food.

As I was eating the turkey and roast beef tonight I couldn't help but think what I am thankful for.  When I was diagnosed two years ago I had to give up alot in order to stay well.  I had to stop working at the serving job I had, not only could I not lift any trays because of the operation I had, the doctors told me I couldn't be there because of my low white blood cell count.  Being around a lot of people who potentially had colds wouldn't be good for my health, white blood cells fight infection, and mine being low I probably would have gotten really sick, like cancer wasn't enough of being sick right?  Luckily, as they say here in Northern Michigan a view of the Bay is half your pay, so like most people I had two jobs.  I was still able to work at the radio station.

There was a lot of food I couldn't eat.  I was advised not to eat fresh veggies during treatment, because they may not be washed properly.  You never really realize what you enjoy until you aren't able to have it.  I thought I really would kill someone for a big salad!!!  Some food I couldn't eat just because it was too hard on me, like anything acidic.  Tell that to someone whose mom makes awesome italian food!!! Tomatoes were off the list for a while.  Funny that I can still talk about food after stuffing my face today at the buffet.

I still worked but I was basically a hermit for a year.  For someone like me, not really a social butterfly, but I like being out with people, going out, hanging with friends.  It was work, doctor visits, home,sleep, eat, sleep, repeat.  Thank goodness that is over with.

I recently got the all clear from my oncologist.  Blood tests look good, mammography was normal.  See you in six months he said.  Got the same news from the radiologist, I don't need to see him until next year.  Hoping for a hat trick when I see my surgeon on Tuesday.

I am thankful for a lot of things, friends, family, all the people who have helped me through this, whether you realized it or not, thank you.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What to Do When a Loved One Has Cancer

I was asked if I would consider a guest post.  Here it is.

I wouldn’t wish it on even my worst enemy because it is a fate worse than death – being afflicted by cancer is to die even while you live, slowly and painfully. I watched a close friend suffer every single day after being diagnosed with colorectal cancer. And I watched her die too after begging us not to prolong her agony by putting her on the ventilator after her lungs aspirated. It’s hard to digest the fact that a loved one has cancer, the deadliest disease that we know of. It eats you up alive and the most you can do is watch helplessly as they suffer and struggle to accept their fate. If you’re making an effort to cope with this disease when a loved one is afflicted, here is some advice that will help a little:

  • Know what to expect: It is going to be hard to face reality, but when it comes to cancer, being prepared is an absolute necessity. Talk to your loved one’s doctor very openly and ask how you can make them more comfortable and happy in their last days. Don’t be gloomy all the time and try to make their life as joyful as possible on the days when they are relatively pain free and comfortable. And accept the fact that there is nothing you can do except help alleviate their pain and offer them company when they want it.

  • Your loved one is bound to be unreasonable: There was an episode on Gray’s Anatomy where a man who had a malignant tumor in his brain abused his wife verbally every chance he got. The poor woman had to cope with his rapid change in moods besides struggling to accept the fact that he was most likely to die during the experimental surgery that was scheduled later that day. A doctor helps her understand why her husband behaved like he did – he was probably trying to drive her away from emotionally so she would not mourn his passing; it was his way of making things easier on her and himself; and it was a way to forget the sadness and pain of the situation. So if your loved one is unreasonable, don’t take it to heart – they are only struggling to cope with the disease and its repercussions.

  • Plan for the future: It may sound callous, but if you’re not prepared in terms of wills and last testaments, you could have legal wrangles to deal with on top of all the emotional stress and sorrow as well. Make plans for the future of your children if you’re leaving them behind and get all your issues in order before death catches up with your loved one.

  • Seek professional help if you need to: If you don’t have an outlet for your feelings and emotions, you’re going to end up affecting your health as well. So seek the support of your family and friends, and if necessary, talk to a professional therapist too. They will help you come to terms with your grief and agony.

Jessica Martin has contributed this guest post, she writes on the topic of x-ray tech schools . She welcomes your comments at her email address:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nothing to fear?

I have been thinking about this post for a while.  Something that all survivors think about, but don't want to talk about. Fear of recurrence.  I don't know ANY friends of mine that are survivors who don't think about this at least at least once. Mostly during times close to doctors appointments.  Yeah that's right I have an oncology appointment in about a week.  Although I don't expect anything bad, there is always that thought, what if?  What if it comes back?  What if the meds I took to get rid of my breast cancer caused some other cancer, yes, that's right, side effects of some of the chemo drugs are other cancers.  I can almost picture one of those happy commercials for Adrymicin/Cytoxan, (the chemo drug that made my pee turn red and made my hair fall out) with the family out for a picnic talking about A/C and happily discussing the potential liver disease and bladder cancer you could get as one of the possible side effects.

Whenever my docs explained the side effects and listed them off, I remember I said no thanks I don't want any of those, as if I had a choice of side effects, no thanks to the seizures, but I will take the chills, fever and hallucinations.

 Fear of recurrence.  It is real.  It is a side effect that I believe every cancer survivor gets, funny how its not on any list that I have seen.  It doesn't happen often, mostly near doctors appointments, especially if I get a scan or a blood test, or near the anniversary of when I was diagnosed, when I had my surgery or some similar cancer related event.    Even unrelated tests can make you nervous.  I remember when my docs office called with the results of my pap test I held my breath a little until the nurse said normal.

As another oncology appointment approaches the thought is in the back of my mind. The odds are in my favor for being cancer free, but there is always that what if?

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty show. Listen live Monday-Friday eastern standard time on

Check out my show The Cancer Warrior on

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Cancer Warrior on

I have a tale to tell
Sometimes it gets so hard to hide it well

Lyrics from a Madonna song "Live to Tell" one of my favorite songs of hers.  Very appropriate I think as a cancer survivor.  It took a long time for me to tell my story.  Vic and I talked about telling my story on The Vic McCarty show, and I wanted to but I was afraid to, it was hard to open up after every thing I have been going through.  I wasn't used to talk about myself to anyone, let alone talk about a disease that scares the hell out of everyone.  Now  its hard to get me not to talk about it.

I have often written about how lucky I am.  I believe everyone can be in the right place at the right time.  Somehow I was in the right place at the right time and I am doing a podcast on  I have only done three so far and I have learned alot from the people I have interviewed.

Everyone's cancer experience is different, meds treat people differently, side effects, psychological and physical effects.   Not everyone is comfortable sharing their story.  That is fine, I can understand that, there are still some aspects of my cancer experience that is too personal to share.

That is the great thing about my new show. I can find people to tell their tale, share their experience and help other survivors and cancer fighters who are going through similar situations. I have learned about perserverance, strength and courage from all of the guests I have had on the show.

 Their stories have helped me and I hope that they will help you as well.

Every survivor has a story.
What's yours?

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty show Monday-Friday 10am-Noon eastern on

Check out The Cancer Warrior on available on demand now.

Friday, November 6, 2009

This is in response to a New York Times article
(you may have to cut and paste this link to read)

Above is the link to the New York Times Article.  Above that is a mammography machine.  I have had about eight mammograms since I have been diagnosed with breast cancer at the ripe old age of 37, 3 years before  most women are recommended to get a mammogram at 40.  Now I am not a doctor, I have no medical background except the time I spent (over a year) going to the hospital for chemo treatments, radiation, doctor visits, blood tests, echocardiograms etc all relating to my cancer treatment.  This is my opinion, not fact.  I did not consult anyone in the cancer or medical field about this blog. The NY Times article made me angry.  Since I have had cancer I have written and spoken about the necessity of breast self exams and mammograms.  Now I don't know the background of the writer of the article, don't know if she has ever had a loved one or friend diagnosed with cancer of any kind, so I don't know if she knows the mental and physical toll it takes on a person going through treatment. I can't speak for her.  I can only speak for me.  In my opinion people 30 and above should get mammograms, and even earlier if there is a history in your family of it.  Anyone can get breast cancer.

When I read the paragraph from the article "Mammograms are no fun, to put it mildly. Like many women, I have been putting up with them in hopes that, if I get cancer, they might find it early enough to save my life and maybe help me avoid extensive surgery and chemotherapy Have I been kidding myself?"

Uh ok, putting up with them?  Really?  When I had my first mammogram the tech apologized about the pain it would cause when the machine would squish my breasts.  I laughed and told her well since she didn't create the machine its not her fault.

"Mammograms are no fun: " That is what the writer of the article says. I would take a few minutes, if that, of being uncomfortable, than the all the lovely baggage that comes along with a cancer diagnosis.

Let me tell you what, Denise Grady of the New York Times, cancer isn't fun either.

Talk to your doctor.  Do your breast self exams. In my opinion, get a mammogram.

Nothing is infallible, mammograms may not detect your cancer, but then again it might.

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty Show. Listen live Monday-Friday 10am-noon eastern on

Check out my new show The Cancer Warrior available on demand now on