Lightning's Flower

Striking Down Breast Cancer Through Awareness


Tackling a Racial gap- The war on black women –

We’ve heard a lot of talk about the war on women, and without delving into that long discussion I want to point out to you a war and racial gap that needs attention. A recent New York Times article, Tackling A Racial Gap in Breast Cancer Survival talks about the significantly higher likelihood that black women will be diagnosed with late stage breast cancer and succumb to the disease. A number of factors are relevant, including the likelihood of Triple Negative, which I have spoken about before. But also, economics, lack of regular medical care, etc. The article was particularly close to home, as my husband is from Memphis, we have lived there and still have a large number of our family living there.

So again, we must be informed and educated. We need to take an active role in the health of our family members. Ask questions, offer a ride to an appointment, sit in with an aunt or parent or grandparent so that you are able to support and offer additional ears. But be mindful of your community and not silent and scared. We owe it to ourselves to be educated and fearless.


1 in 8

Breast cancer treatment has been improving. In fact, the fact that my mom battled cancer for over 10 years may not have been the case in the 80’s or 90’s. But in reality, a surprisingly large number of people don’t know their risk. Did you know the overall lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is 1 in 8. This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but we shouldn’t wait for the pink reminders.

I participated in a breast milk study performed in connection with Army of Women. The study tests breastmilk in nursing mothers to further analyze the changes in breast tissue during nursing for any potential indicators. This particular test also requires a previous biopsy. I’ve had one because I have fibroadenomas. As a side note, you can sign up to join the Army of Women and see how you might be able to help in studies, which I highly recommend. Anyhow, along with returning milk samples you had to fill out a questionnaire. One question asks if anyone in your family is BRCA 1 or 2 positive. I actually never heard of it, so I marked ‘no’ and paid it little thought after.

Well after Mommy passed, I just so happened to have a doctor’s appointment. I inquired about it and subsequently saw a breast specialist for regular monitoring of my fibroadenoma as well as for the BRCA test. Since I was pregnant, the doctor decided against testing until I had delivered. Shortly after my little angel was born we went in. I say we because she was in my carrier accompanying me. I waited a few weeks and fortunately the result was negative. I told my husband and my tone confused him, this was a good thing right? Well yes it was, but it also meant Mommy wasn’t predisposed, she just was the 1 in 8.

So remember, don’t put off having your regular mammograms. If you have a family history, talk to your doctor about your risks. And most definitely, do your monthly self exams. If you feel something, ask your doctor. Take your health into your hands, not just this month, but every month.




I was putting up my daughters’ exam paperwork from their pediatrician visits a couple days ago. In the same folder I have the notes from one of my mom’s doctors from her CT scan. Mommy had them fairly regularly to see what was happening. At this particular time she wanted me to talk to her doctor because there was a lot going on and she wanted me to ask the doctor any questions. (As I mentioned before, she did that often) Plus, in general, it is always good to have someone else talk to your doctor- extra ears in case you miss something. Well, there were a lot of things that needed to be done. I try not to bash medical professionals because many do a great job, but there are so many pieces to the puzzle and so many actors that things get confusing. When you or a loved one is going through things, it can be a bit frustrating. We were supposed to make appointments with a cardiologist, a neurologist, and of course the oncologist. Meanwhile, every call to schedule resulted in the same rundown of questions, confusion on what was needed, and of course many many minutes on hold.

I must admit that I can’t share some ah ha moment, or some simple solution to how to deal with this. I can say that if possible, have someone other than the patient handle the calls and questions. Also, get a medical power of attorney. In a world of privacy and strict procedures it is very important. And just be prepared for a bit of frustration, but remain persistent. It will seem like a lot because it really is. And in all the stress, try to be nice. Yes, some people will not deserve it, but being firm and friendly are not mutually exclusive. My mom always said you get more with honey than vinegar. Sometimes I wondered why she would give people so much unnecessary information, or at least I thought it was unnecessary – but she was building relationships and often got that quick call back or extra something in a maze of craziness.

I’m not the most open chatty person, and maybe you aren’t either. But sometimes I think, What would Mommy do?” It’s usually the last thing I would think at that moment, but when it comes to someone doing that little something extra, Mommy sure knew how to have that effect on people. Probably because she was always doing something for someone else too. That’s another post all together, but stay tuned.

So again, WWMD, What would Mable do? Give you a long shpiel (or however that is spelled) and make a new friend/ally!


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Be your Advocate

This is a brief reminder of how important we are in our own care.The medical profession is very interesting. It is one service where we somehow don’t see it as a service. Meaning, often times we don’t demand the care we want. Now this is definitely not everyone, neither is it for all doctors, nurses, or other medical staff. I have had very good physicians of my own and encountered some very good doctors providing exceptional care to my mother. She had the frequent habit of having her doctors call me and explain what was going on or for me to ask questions. (As a side observation, though I don’t ask extensive questions in personal relationships, I always have a list a mile long for doctors.) Well this particular doctor would give me extensive detail to all my questions. I wish I could remember her name, and I can clearly see my mom trying to remind me as I write. Like I said before, I am now learning additional questions I could have asked, but that’s the point of this blog.

Well, my point is this. You are your advocate. We think that training means the doctor knows best, but you must ask for the best and not sit as a bystander in your healthcare. If you don’t like your doctor, get a new one. You are paying them a really high rate for a service, so very good service is what you should get!

With that, enjoy your Labor Day!