Tag Archives: Cancer

The Summer Solstice

English: Illumination of Earth by Sun on the d...
Illumination of Earth by Sun on the day of winter solstice on northern hemisphere. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And a Happy Solstice to All!

Summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere on June 20, 2015 this year coinciding with a Full Moon. The word Solstice is Latin in origin and translates as, Sol =the Sun, + stitere =standing still.

On that day, the North Pole tilts most directly Sunward. Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere experience this as the longest day and shortest night of the year. Around December 21, the Winter Solstice, the North Pole points away from the Sun giving us in the Northern Hemisphere, our shortest day, and longest night. This tilting of the Earth’s rotational axis gives us our seasons. During each Solstice, the Sun appears to both rise and set at the exactly opposite spot on the horizon. The Solar Calendars like Stonehenge and the Sun Dagger in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico operate by indicating this point.

Symbols of Summer:

The rose, the fast-growing vine and the bright sun. Modern symbols include flip-flops, Outdoor weddings, icy pitchers of lemonade, beach umbrellas and baseball games!

Foods of Summer:

Fruits, fresh picked vegetables, pickled salads, cold soups, tomatoes, and iced tea.

Colors of Summer:

Brights: lime green, lemon yellow, sunny orange, sky blue.

The Zodiacal Signs of Summer:

The solstice is the first day of Cancer – July 22, Leo from July 23 – August 22, and Virgo from August 23 – September 8 this  year.

The Stones of Summer:

Cancer resonates with white stones like shell and pearl. Leo with gold stones like citrine and tiger-eye. Virgo with blue stones like sodalite and sapphire.

Activities of Summer:

picnics, gardening, parades and festivals, fireworks, weeding, swimming outside.

Links:

The Farmer’s Almanac’s Solstice Page

The Empire of the Sun a Museum exhibit from Denmark, roughly translated into English

The Chaco Canyon Sun Dagger petroglyphs

The Solstice Project: A Research Project about Fajada Butte

An interactive model of the Sun Dagger.

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September 26 is is Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Meet Heather…

hvsj-bio
I read about her and decided to share her with you. I hope you enjoy her blog and are as touched by her story as I am.  

Click here to read Heather’s page.

Facts about mesothelioma and asbestos

  • Every year around 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
  • Did you know ASBESTOS IS STILL NOT BANNED IN THE US? Roughly 30 million pounds are still used each year.
  • Even more than 30 years after the peak of its use, asbestos exposure is still the NUMBER ONE cause of occupational cancer in the US.
  • Navy Veterans are at the greatest risk to develop mesothelioma as asbestos was widely used in Naval ships and shipyards.

 

Women choose body art over reconstruction after cancer battle

Did you see this article in the Guardian?

mastectomy tattoo
photograph: Guardian

Of course you didn’t.

You can click the link at the bottom of this post  to read it now because I am mentioned in it, and… they spelled all my names correctly!

That is the Guardian, as in Guardian, UK. Yes, the paper everyone is reading in those British murder mysteries I watch on Netflix.

Interesting, eh?

I never would have heard about it except that I received an interview request from a Seattle publication because of it and she mentioned reading it.

Back in 1993-94, I never thought that this would become a trend but apparently it has.  Here is a quote from the article, ‘Women who have chosen tattoos over reconstruction cite the reclaiming of their bodies as the main reason for the choice. Some women refuse reconstruction because they feel it is a denial of the impact of cancer, both positive and negative, and that a tattoo (often very carefully designed to express the personal nature of the cancer journey) is the exact opposite.’

Click to read the article: Women choose body art over reconstruction after cancer battle

Facebook posts their new policy on mastectomy photos

Facebook posts their new policy on mastectomy photos which states:

Does Facebook allow post-mastectomy photos?

Yes. We agree that undergoing a mastectomy is a life-changing experience and that sharing photos can help raise awareness about breast cancer and support the men and women facing a diagnosis, undergoing treatment, or living with the scars of cancer. The vast majority of these kinds of photos are compliant with our policies. They go on to explain why breastfeeding photos are removed from Facebook: However, photos with fully exposed breasts, particularly if they’re unaffected by surgery, do violate Facebook’s Terms. These policies are based on the same standards which apply to television and print media, and that govern sites with a significant number of young people. I don’t take credit here because I admit I really didn’t have any opinion on whether Facebook should or should not allow pictures like mine to be broadcast all over their site. I mean, it is their site and who are FB’s real customers? The advertisers, right? Do you think they want mastectomy photos gathering shares & likes? I don’t see why they would. What IS weird though is why FB, is so nervous about breasts. OK, it isn’t weird, they are just using the same criteria that all other US media use but what on earth is wrong with breastfeeding?  In my opinion, breastfeeding should be more visible,  I mean, it is normal, it’s natural! Wouldn’t we all be better, calmer and happier seeing more of that? I know I would. Well anyway, now that Facebook has clarified their policy, about half the sites that are reporting on it are using, yup… my photo. Here is a sample: inquisitr posts new facebook policy

Prophylactic Mastectomy: A Reasonable Option?

Since Angelina Jolie’s news, I’ve seen several points repeated, so I’ll address them:

“She should have waited until she actually had cancer.”

This actually reflects several misunderstandings: of Cancer itself, a confusion between systemic and localized cancer, and a lack of knowledge about mastectomy procedures. She couldn’t have had the surgery she had if she had waited until she had cancer. What she had is a “skin-sparing prophylactic mastectomy” the point of which is to remove as much breast tissue as possible while giving a result that is not obtainable with reconstruction after cancer surgery. Compare the pix below:

Pretty big difference isn’t there? The first looks natural and the second is designed to look natural in clothing. The scars from biopsies and mastectomy really can’t be hidden that easily.

The other problem with actually waiting and relying on so-called early detection is that it assumes that a mastectomy could or should be done at that point when it is not always the best option. Cancers may be local or systemic and just because a cancer is small does not necessarily mean that it was caught early or that it will be easy to treat. A small cancer could be a very aggressive cancer with tendrils reaching into other organs that would need to be treated with radiation, chemotherapy or other treatments and skin that has been scarred and irradiated is not always capable of being stretched over an implant. Essentially, once you have a malignant tumor, you are no longer having a “prophylactic mastectomy” because breast cancer may be in other parts of your body besides your breasts as author Kelli and her sister, Fran, discover in this article, MY SISTER HAD A DOUBLE MASTECTOMY TOO, BUT SHE DIED OF BREAST CANCER ANYWAY.

This is similar to what happened to my mother. For those of you who haven’t read it before, Mom had breast cancer which was treated by lumpectomy and radiation. She had the requisite followups of mammograms and biopsies and when she was diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer in her lungs, liver and spine twenty years later, her breasts were clear of cancer. So if she had a so-called “prophylactic mastectomy” at the first sign of cancer, she would have had the same thing happen.

Obviously “preventive” means before cancer is diagnosed. If you want an approachable but still gratifyingly educational book about cancer, check out The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Here is another absurd yet oft’ repeated statement…

“No ethical doctor would ever remove a perfectly healthy set of testicles from a man who has no symptoms of testicular cancer, so how could a doctor do this?”

Here we have both medical ethics and sexism rolled into one question. The quote brings to mind all the tabloid scandals since the 60s from medically unnecessary hysterectomies, (the so-called Harlem appendectomy) to DES, from C-sections to prophylactic mastectomies… never mind that this time it is the women asking for the procedure. There are a couple of things that really irk me about this statement.

1. Testicles aren’t analogous to breasts, but to ovaries, and as important as these are women do get them removed much more cavalierly than they remove breasts. Breasts actually have little function aside from breastfeeding infants and Jolie and most other women who are in the age group to be considering this procedure have probably already done that.

2. Since cancers affect lungs, pancreases, stomachs, and plenty of organs that can’t be removed preemptively, does that mean that something that can be, shouldn’t be? These women are educated, can generally afford the procedures if not covered by insurance and are making their decisions with their doctors. Is that really different than any other elective procedure?

Bonus round: Right now, neither genetic testing nor prophylactic mastectomy is usually recommended by physicians but if Aetna’s policy posted online here is indicative, prophylactic mastectomy medically necessary for reduction of risk of breast cancer it may be recommended by insurance providers at some point.

I know this is controversial stuff, so please be thoughtful of others feelings when you comment.

Related articles:

  • Here is a link to a Daily Mail article about 4 young UK women who discuss their reasons for having this surgery.

  • Here is a link to an article by a woman who says she delayed having a prophylactic mastectomy and then did get cancer.

  • Skin sparing Mastectomy film on Youtube from Johns Hopkins

The Facebook Controversy, yes and no.

We seem to have stumbled into a full-blown controversy. I feel like I missed most of it but people appear to have been accusing Facebook of censoring the tattoo photo. Russ Bowen of KOMO News 4 contacted me about a censorship issue this morning and I told him that I had not posted the photo nor was I aware of its having been removed.

He did some investigative reporting and called the tattoo shop in Ontario whose Facebook page has been supposedly affected. The shop owner said Facebook has not touched the photo and has assured him it has no intention of doing so. Scott adds: The good news is that Inga and Tina’s work is getting out to more people than ever and is hopefully giving hope to those who need it most. */:-)

later that day: Facebook did remove the photo deciding that it did violate policy

and later that week: Facebook rethought their policy on mastectomy tattoos (see later posts)

My photo on the Custom Tattoo Design’s Facebook page stats as of 5:38 pm 2/20/13:

184,181 others like this.
148,653 shares
22,178 comments

Here are a few news sources that seem to be reporting directly off the newsfeed. Here is one headline:

“Facebook removes photo of breast cancer survivor’s chest tattoo, picture goes viral” Click to read the UPI article

Here is another:

“Facebook Removes Photo Of Breast Cancer Survivor’s Tattoo, Users Fight Back” Click to read the Huffington Post article

 

 

 

The tattoo broke free again…

When Tina and I designed my mastectomy coverup tattoo, I considered it a personal thing that would be seen by me, Tina, Scott, my surgeon and probably a few women that I would show it to now and then. But when Tina was approached by MSNBC’s Michelle Smawley to be featured in the segment of MSNBC Investigates: Tattooed Women, she said she just knew it had to be about our project.

I am a shy person so it took me a long time to cozy up to the idea but my mother and step-mother’s experiences with breast cancer surgery and especially the feedback from women who had seen my tattoo pushed me to tell the story.

Michelle came out from New York City with her crew and interviewed Tina, my husband and me for hours and once the filming was done, life went back to normal….for about two weeks and then the anxiety started. Would she make us look like ninnies? Had any of us said anything particularly stupid? What were we thinking when we agreed to this? Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I called her in New York and told her that she couldn’t go ahead. I was a nervous wreck and losing weight — the works! She laughed and said she had just gotten off the phone after having the same conversation with Tina.

She reassured me that she had made us a beautiful segment and that every morning the whole production crew crowded into her cubicle to watch it and all left with tears in their eyes. The only consideration they were having to consider was whether my topless images counted as nudity or not and Legal was reviewing that. She sent us a VHS tape of the show when it aired and we were all relieved, if not pleased. She will be my pick if I ever need a producer for a show. Afterwards, we would get calls from family members periodically, “You guys were on TV again” or Scott or I would get recognized at work or in restaurants occasionally. Tina and I were once at a Vince’s restaurant together and we ended up with a boothful of waitresses tearfully telling us how much the show had meant to them — it was wonderful.

But none of that compares to the buzz lately. We were at lunch with friends last week and one of them mentioned getting the pictures sent to him by a friend. Another friend from my knitting group got pics emailed to her from a friend in Australia and the tattoos were also featured on the Bob Rivers’ Show Facebook page with 10,870 likes, 7,923 shares and 1,028 comments, most of which weren’t from weirdos. I am not sure why the buzz goes in waves like this but if it helps more women to feel better about their bodies, then I will try to keep my blushes to myself.

Related posts:

Tattoo Tuesday