Monday, June 3, 2013

The Cancer Blog: Week 19

My Health

Muriel Whiting
This blog within a blog will discuss cancer and all of my fears, hopes and expectations for a positive outcome—full and complete recovery. In addition, I plan to throw in some latest medical research. All cancer patients are interested, to some degree, in research and the latest medical findings; I am no exception. Today is Day 168 living with cancer.

Today’s post is from a guest voice, Muriel Sommers, a breast cancer survivor.

by Muriel Sommers

Day of Caring, a conference dedicated to promoting breast cancer awareness, celebrated its 12th anniversary May 11.The annual gathering is a roster of Who’s Who in the breast cancer community, with leading physicians and other medical and non-medical professionals sharing their expertise with more than 600 engaged and enthusiastic followers.

It’s a special day–a day of education, encouragement and empowerment for all concerned about breast cancer. I have been attending Day of Caring for four years (I am a survivor for five), and every year I look forward to the day. Part of the reason is that I’m involved in the breast cancer community, and I always see many people I have met along my breast cancer journey.

Sometimes I meet old friends whom I knew before cancer. At first, I’m shocked to see them because I didn’t know they had breast cancer; but after the shock, I’m happy to see that they have made it through their journey as well.

Being the researcher that I am, seeing someone I knew in my pre-cancer life makes me wonder what the similarities were between us that made us breast cancer buddies. Did we eat the same food? Have the same lifestyle? Work in the same industry? Could that be what caused our cancers?

All good questions that were answered in one of the sessions I attended, out of the 23 that were presented at Day of Caring. It’s always hard to pick the five sessions that are of the most interest to you. This year they added some non-cancer-related topics on rising costs, financial success and even a supermarket walk workshop, all of which are beneficial and of real-life concern to each of us touched by the disease. Look for some of the information in future posts.

The luncheon speaker was Judy Blume one of the country’s most beloved and widely read authors for those of you who have young children. Among her most well-known books are Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret; Tiger Eyes and the teen classic, Forever.

Of course, she is also a breast cancer survivor. Diagnosed in 2012 at the age of 73, Judy Blume had a mastectomy and reconstruction. And, as many of us have remarked each year, she said she was glad to be able to participate in the Day of Caring. Breast cancer does not discriminate.

After her presentation came the most empowering segment of the program–the survivor fashion show, which included 23 breast cancer survivors including one male survivor. Each of them walked the runway in beautiful clothes, à la Project Runway, and shared their stories. There’s never a dry eye in the house as you experience the love for life that each person exudes as they sashay down the runway with smiling faces and pride of accomplishment – surviving breast cancer!It’s empowering!

Models of Hope Fashion Show

The journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment published an interesting study that found that social support helps ease the pain of physical symptoms, and concluded that “Social support mechanisms matter in terms of physical outcomes.”

I highly recommend Day of Caring as a part of your social support group and your healing journey.

Muriel Whiting is founder of So Fl Day of Caring for breast cancer awareness. 

Copyright ©2013. Muriel Sommers. All Rights Reserved. This article was originally published at Baptist Health Breast Center. It is republished here with the permission of the author and the blog-site.

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