… from the New York Times
MY MOTHER fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.
We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.
Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.
Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.
On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.
But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.
My own process began on Feb. 2 with a procedure known as a “nipple delay,” which rules out disease in the breast ducts behind the nipple and draws extra blood flow to the area. This causes some pain and a lot of bruising, but it increases the chance of saving the nipple.
Two weeks later I had the major surgery, where the breast tissue is removed and temporary fillers are put in place. The operation can take eight hours. You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film. But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.
Nine weeks later, the final surgery is completed with the reconstruction of the breasts with an implant. There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful.
I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.
It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can. On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.
I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.
For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.
I acknowledge that there are many wonderful holistic doctors working on alternatives to surgery. My own regimen will be posted in due course on the Web site of the Pink Lotus Breast Center. I hope that this will be helpful to other women.
Breast cancer alone kills some 458,000 people each year, according to the World Health Organization, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. It has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live. The cost of testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, at more than $3,000 in the United States, remains an obstacle for many women.
I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.
Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.
Have a look at these images…
… absolutely beautiful?
White Rabbit Productions recently organised an event for an Audi launch.
I loved the softness against the concrete , and just had to share the effect with y’all.
Happy Mother’s Day!
So it’s wellness week here at the office.
My height is 1.62. So I am actually not 20kg overweight like I thought I was. Yay!
Only 10kg overweight.
Although I would like to weigh 57kg again, I will be ecstatic if I get to 60kg. My colleague told me about this lemon juice and maple syrup diet. for 10 days. Yes, it’s like having healthy lemonade all day long for 10 days. No thanks, I love food too much.
My BMI confirmed that I am overweight. My glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure are all within the normal range. Yay. But my discovery age gave me a huge fright!
So you all know that I am eating properly now. And I get some exersize in. My stress levels are crazy. So I need to work on that.
Thinking about joining a yoga class at gym to help control this.
Exersize plus destress = Bonus. Yoga it is.
I wish you all well, with your wellness plans.
So my MAC lipstick, which looks completely natural when on, is finished.
And my MAC lip conditioner is finished. And guess what, MAC decided to discontinue the lip conditioners. Argh.
I got a little sample of oh-lief with Adam’s gem box last month. I have been secretly using it on my lips. And no, I haven’t used any on Adams bottom. I prefer bepanthem. Anyway…
Today, it crossed my mind that if I used a toothpick to dig out all the left over lipstick, and mixed it with the oh lief, I could make my own lip conditioner.
No judging you guys.
I did it.
On a low heat I melted the oh lief, added the left over lipstick, and ta-da!
It smells like lavender, it’s tinted, and it conditions my lips just like the MAC used to.
…I hope it solidifies…
So my phone is doing something weird. It switches itself off, and then I can’t get it on again. My brother-in-law is convinced that there is a combination of button pressing that results in this, and told me to try press teh power and volume + and – buttons at the same time. We’ll see how that goes. And I may just need to send it in at the end of the week. I am a bit sad though, because I love the technology. I hope Wareen and I didn’t get phones from a first “bad” batch.
Had to share my his story about his “Xperia”nce…
When it comes to mobile operating systems, I’m a fan of Android. My first android phone was a Samsung Galaxy S2 and I still think it’s an awesome phone – 2 years later.
I was due for an MTN contract upgrade in February 2013, but I decided to wait until Samsung launched the Galaxy S4 in South Africa…which would only be at the end of April. Then I saw an advert for the Sony Xperia Z and was hooked. The reason? My Sony TX10 waterproof camera. I got it a year ago before going on vacation and it really lived up to the promise of being good looking, but durable. Waterproof up to 5M, dustproof and freezeproof. It’s a great camera with amazing low light shots. There’s something very special about being able to take a camera underwater for snorkelling without having to attach bulky casing around it.
Because of my great experience with the TX10 and the fact that the new Xperia Z smartphone would have the same camera sensor and up to 1M waterproof for up to 30 mins, I was sold! I started calling MTN to nag about the phone’s SA release date and extolled it’s virtues to anyone who’d listen. This despite the fact that the Galaxy S4 actually has better specifications.
When I finally received the Xperia Z, I was very impressed. The phone lived up to all the hype and it was indeed waterproof, not just water resistant. It could be fully submerged in a bowl of water and emerge unscathed. I dropped the phone in water because I wanted to test it upfront and because I trusted Sony’s manufacturing and claims. The phone worked really well for 2 weeks, but then I used it outside in the rain and an hour later it stopped responding. The power button was acting up and the phone went off. Over the next few days, the power button was erratic but when the phone was on…everything else seemed to work properly. The phone then went off and I couldn’t get it on again. I suspected that water had entered through a weak spot in the casing. I had always closed all the waterproof flaps, as instructed by Sony. The flaps have indicators which change colour if they’ve been in contact with water while open. The flaps show red when in contact with water. All of mine were still white.
I took to the phone to MTN’s high volume repair centre in Midrand. I wanted the phone exchanged on warranty. They inspected it and 2 hours later issued a report that there was liquid damage inside and they would not replace it as per their policy. I explained that this was a waterproof phone (IP5/7 rating) and that their policy would have to be updated. I then phoned the Sony customer service centre (South Africa) and explained the issue. They were hesitant at first and tried to claim that any water damage was my fault for leaving the flaps open. Only after I carefully explained my working knowledge of the phone, that the flaps were closed firmly and that none of the indicators are red, did they agree to inspect the phone to verify my claim and make a decision to exchange it or not. It’s been a week and I’m still waiting for a response from Sony. I’ve escalated this to the supervisor, but she always has a new excuse for not inspecting the phone. I fear that they may not have the technical capability to assist me and a grim determination not to exchange the phone, but rather to lose me as a loyal Sony customer forever.
To add insult to injury, Samsung has recently released this statement:
Galaxy S4 – Here I come!
Scott Hanselman has written an app so that as babies smash on a keyboard, colourful shapes, letters and numbers appear on the screen.
Baby Smash will lock out the Windows Key, as well as Ctrl-Esc and Alt-Tab so your baby can’t get out of the application.
Pressing ALT-F4 will exit the application and Shift-Ctrl-Alt-O brings up the options dialog.
Mommies and Daddies –> so how kewl is this?
Here is a link to the Free Download!
Yes, all the way to the bottom of a foot spa. *sigh*
I was devastated.
A few hours later I started thinking about getting a new device. Since my phone was more than 2 years old and all.
After a few comparisons on gsmarena. And some geek advice from my colleague Warren. I decided to go for the new Sony Xperia Z.
Insurance paid me out late last week. I went straight to MTN and got my new baby.
Sjoe. I am officially an Sony Xperia Z fan. I love her with all my heart. I didn’t touch my iPad this weekend. I spent most of the weekend figuring things out and downloading apps for me, photography, and of course for Ani and Adam.
It takes really good photos. I have cropped this one a LOT. But I took it from a moving car this morning in 6am traffic. The city looked very pretty.
*heart* my new phone! YAY!
I deactivated my Facebook account in January. I am overweight. And the hormonal imbalance has made me really miserable. What was worse was that I was comparing myself to people that my husband was adding as friends. That is so creepy.
You know, you can be anyone you want to be on the internet. You can post photos that don’t look like you. You can write stuff that gives other people the impression that you have a perfect life, a perfect job, a perfect car, and perfect kids, or even an imperfect life.
The problem is not with all the falseness out there. It’s that, I think, I was trying really hard to create a perfect life, and then trying to snapshot it so I could show it to all on Facebook. Not nice.
So I left. Not because I am proud, but because of what it was doing to me.
Initially, I was on Facebook to share photos and give and receive updates with family that live abroad. Facebook grew, and things started getting hairy and nasty. One day Sam on 94.7 breakfast express stated that it was becoming more like brag book. I agree 150%. Look where I am. Look what I’m doing. And I fell into that trap.
Things are different now. I have activated my account once again. And now, I am going to try and be who God wants me to be. Because then, I don’t even have to try. It will all come naturally, and not hurt or offend anyone, but be a blessing. And I won’t be offended either, because my perspective has changed.
I read a blog entry very recently that inspired me to share my story, in closing she said,
You don’t have to prove anything to anyone.
You have already been approved by an almighty God.
Isn’t that great to know?!
It’s pretty freeing really.
Yes indeed, freeing.
The New York Times has developed an algorithm that automatically detects poetry hidden in the paper’s articles. Using a syllable dictionary, a computer scans each article in search of haikus.
Then journalists select the most wonderful results and publish them daily at Times Haiku.