FIGHT LIKE A GIRL
Thank you for ordering a Fight Like A Girl Cocktail! By ordering this drink, and asking your local bar to carry this drink, you are helping to spread a message about breast cancer prevention. Here's a link to how to make one!!! Unfortunately, this message is currently not being spread by our healthcare providers. I've been told that technology is moving faster than policy. This delay is why I was not able to prevent my cancer. If I would have been told genetic testing is now readily available and affordable... I could have prevented my cancer. But, hind sight is always 20-20. Today you can by going to Invitae and ordering your cancer screening test. Never allowing cancer to enter your body is the BEST way to live a cancer free life. This may sound drastic as you first read my story, but I assure you after seeing my mom fight cancer and lose, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself and for your family. When my mom passed I had been by her side for her losing battle for one third of my life.
When my mother Carol was 57 years old she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. I was two weeks from finishing my BA at Cal Poly when all my plans and dreams slipped away. I quickly changed what I thought was my ‘perfect plan’ to move home to beautiful Sonoma County. That’s when I reconnected with who is now my husband and I became something I never thought I’d be: a wife and mother. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and I have the most amazing children. I just hadn’t planned on such a path, at least at that point in my life. I founded Sipsong based on a need to create something meaningful, and until I started creating I had never truly found myself. Now I feel 100% in control and full of power. The power that I have is to build things the world needs.
With Fight Like A Girl, I see something the world very much needs. This need is information about a subject, a disease, that is very near and dear to my heart: breast cancer. If I can prevent one family from suffering as we did when we watched my mom battle for her life, I will feel fulfilled. She fought bravely and without a complaint for the last 13 years of her life. She was as tough as nails, with style and grace to spare — that was Carol Delaney.
Did you know that 10% (I will argue the numbers are even higher) of breast cancer is preventable today, right now? This may sound drastic to you at first but please hear my story. I have lived this, my sister is living it, and we both watched my mom live it. I have researched every option for a woman with breast cancer in the US, and I believe most developed nations are using these same developments, which in the last 15 years are quite miraculous (thank you UCSF and others). You may not have seen a skin saving, nipple sparing double mastectomy with your own eyes but I can tell you firsthand that it’s amazing. It’s even more amazing when performed without cancer that the doctors must work around. This surgery can prevent cancer from entering your body to begin with. There are many blood vessels that run through the breasts, and the breast also drains to the lymphatic system. The current method of waiting until a lump arrives means waiting until cancer is in your body and then removing or shrinking, then removing. This might work for me and for others who have cancer, the word I dislike here is might. It’s not 100%. I prefer better odds than that for my life. I’m guessing you might too, for yourself and for your loved ones.
We know breast cancer is genetic. Genetic testing tells us something, it gives us statistics. You know there is a risk when your grandma, mom and aunt all have breast cancer. If you test positive for BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations then you know exactly what the odds are for getting this terrible disease. For me it was an 87% chance. When the gene has yet to be identified, we don’t know your odds, whether they are lower or higher. For either of these cases, whether an identified or unidentified gene mutation, you can get a double mastectomy like I described above. I like to call it a "free" boob job. That’s an exaggeration, there will be deductibles, of course. You should have some sort of health coverage (I recommend checking on yours before getting genetic testing). You’re “free” boob job will likely require refreshers every 10 years but the good news is that you won’t have breast tissue that turns into cancer. You will still have your skin, nipple and gorgeous breasts. If you don’t have the BRCA gene you will have to push your healthcare provider but I’ve been told they will do it if you have family members who have gotten breast cancer. The BEST treatment for cancer is prevention, end of story. Catching it early is of course important and very helpful as well. I did self exams everyday because I was told I didn’t have enough family history for the genetic test. But, my intuition told me something different. My family is very small with both of my parents only children, so I didn’t have a big pool for history. I listened to my intuition and I now have a 95% chance of living through this, once all my treatment is done. If I would have known about the current state of genetic testing, I would never have gotten cancer, I would have signed myself up for the preventative mastectomy. Keep reading if you are BRCA, or if you have hormone receptive kinds of breast cancer in your family, and you have not decided to proactively get the “free” boob job.
My sister also wants to share her story as there is another topic that arises with this surgery. The interesting difference between me (with cancer) and Shannen (without cancer) is that even after the surgery, she will continue having normal hormones for her brain, heart and bone health until a normal time for menopause. I am 41 and with the chemotherapy my menopause begins. The reason my chance for survival of the aggressive type of cancer that grew in my breast is so high is because I got lucky. The type of tumor that grew is receptive to hormones. This means that if some of those cancer cells are still in my body, they like hormones for growth. So it’s easy, all I have to do is block my hormones for the rest of my life and it won’t come back. No topical hormones, no nothing. My life will not be what it was. Hot flashes are one thing but the prolonged life without hormones will weaken my heart, my bones and scariest of all, my mind. I’m a pilot. I’m a lot of things. A life of a 40 year old with the brain of a 60 year old isn’t too exciting. I’m not trying to complain, however I do want to share this reality. Menopause is here for me, at 41.
So please, order the test from Invitae. Share the results with your healthcare provider. Take control of your story. Don’t just let breast cancer happen to you. Fight Like A Girl, be smart and negotiate your way into winning the fight.