All posts tagged: Breast Cancer

TueNight 10: Roberta Lombardi

Age: 53 Quick Bio: Roberta is a three-year breast cancer survivor and founder and president of Infinite Strength, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to underserved/underinsured women diagnosed with breast cancer. Many of the women helped by her organization are single mothers who are financially disadvantaged and/or below the poverty level. Beyond the bio: “I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 49 after I discovered a lump during a self-exam. I feel like I was just learning to embrace myself at that time: not concerned as much with what other people thought of me, and just enjoying life and my family. I loved my 40s! And then came the diagnosis. I lost my breasts, hair, self-esteem and dignity. When I was through with treatment I had to figure out who I was because I did not recognize myself, and it was a tough road.” What makes you a grown-ass lady?: “Having breast cancer pretty much stripped me down to the bone emotionally. But in a lot of ways that was a good thing as I began …

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A Healer with a Gun: She Tattoos for Cancer

“Angel of Abundance” watercolor and tattoo. (Photo courtesy of Amy Justen/@shhhmagic) In 2016 it’s not unusual to find out your co-worker has an elaborate sleeve tattoo hidden under her Ann Taylor blouse. But in 1990, when Amy Justen was a student at The Art Institute of Chicago, “tattoos were still very much part of the subculture of rebels,” says Justen. When Amy’s cousin, a Hell’s Angel fully engaged in the biker lifestyle, invited Amy to apprentice in his shop in Texas, she decided this was “not a career path for a young woman from a good Catholic family.” She stayed in Chicago and completed her art degree instead. After graduation, while Amy was pursuing a career in fine art, earning critical acclaim but not enough cash, two Chicago tattoo artists, Robert Hixon and Wayne Borucki, encouraged her to pick up a tattoo gun. “I was super green and had no idea what I was doing,” Amy says. “Tattooing is an unforgiving art form. I had to put all other mediums aside while I learned. It still blows …

The Devil You Know: Why I Chose to Remove Both Breasts

I had a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery in December of 2009. I’m not a survivor, I did not have cancer. I am genetically inclined to get it, so I guess if anything, I am a pre-survivor — this was a proactive surgery. I never looked at my decision as brave. I just played the shitty card in the hand that I was dealt. A few years before my surgery, my mom was diagnosed with stage-3 breast cancer. Her mother passed away at age 44 of ovarian cancer. It was pretty obvious I was a vulnerable branch on the cancer family tree. The first decision I had to make was whether I should have the genetic testing done. For me, it was a no brainer; I believe the devil that you know is better than the devil that you don’t. No longer did I want to catch and beat cancer — I wanted to deny it the chance to play at all. I tested positive for the BRCA1 gene. In a nutshell, this means I …

That Time I Was Radioactive

Right now I am radioactive and waiting for a PET scan. I’ve been anxious about this test since I’ve known I would be taking it. I found a thickening in my left breast on Labor Day. It wasn’t a lump, but it was clearly out of place. I didn’t really think it was anything, but I googled it and discovered that breast cancer doesn’t always present as a lump. My regularly scheduled mammogram was only six weeks away, but I am not great with uncertainly. Six weeks of waiting would be intolerable. I called the radiologist as soon as I knew the office would be open, and when I described what I had found, she squeezed me in first thing in the morning two days later. I arrived to an almost empty office. As other patients came and went over the next four hours, I shuttled back and forth between repeated mammograms, ultrasounds and the dreaded waiting room. I cooperated as they put my breasts and arms into increasingly uncomfortable positions. Finally, the doctor asked …

1 in 8: Why You Should Still Get That Mammogram

One of the most fascinating/confounding phenomena I’ve observed over the last decade is the absolute explosion of health information on the web and the profound impact it can have, both positive and negative, on people’s behavior, attitudes and healthcare choices. While there’s definitely a lot of good information out there, there’s also a lot of bunk. Sifting through the clutter, picking out the important nuggets and turning them into choices about our health has become a huge challenge, much more so in a time when medical and scientific innovation is being communicated directly to consumers through so many different channels. In this monthly column, I’ll be cutting through the health-web BS and translating internet-speak about bodies, fitness and nutrition into real talk that matters for your health. Join me as I try to make sense of it all — I’ll do my best to tell it to you straight. Everywhere you look on the internet these days, someone is telling women what to do with their boobs. A lot of time and energy seems to …

Talking to My Mom about Her Breast Cancer, 40 Years Later

My mom got breast cancer in 1974 and survived. I feel incredibly lucky that she’s here, that’s she’s 76 years young, and that I have been afforded a lifetime with her. In fact, I feel so lucky, that I hardly ever think about it. Aside from her urging my sister and me to get annual mammograms (which, as dutiful daughters, we do), we never really talk about her cancer very much. So I thought, on the occasion of this issue, I would. Mom, how did you discover the lump? I discovered it in the shower. It was probably near the surface of my skin. It was hot to the touch, warm. My mother had breast cancer in 1954, so I was well aware of what it could be. But she survived that for a while, right? Well, it spread. Not extremely fast, but it spread into her lungs and brain and she died in 1963. So after you self-diagnosed it, what did you do next? I don’t remember much. I remember going to HUP (Hospital …