Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is breast cancer awareness month. NFL players wear pink shoes at least they have in the past. Some cities hold races, but I think the most important think is to bring awareness to the masses.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  So many people who are dear to me has passed due to breast cancer my mom being the most signifiant one. October 27, 2008, I watched my mom breath her last breathe.

Many factors over the course of a lifetime can influence breast cancer risk according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can’t change some factors, but you can help lower your risk of breast cancer by taking care of your health in the following ways—

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Limit alcoholic drinks.
  • If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapy or  oral contraceptive (birth control pills), ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
  • Breastfeed if possible
  • If you have a family history of breast cancer it may be a good ideal to get a BRCA test.
  • Screening for breast cancer can seem scary, but the sooner it is diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated and the better chance for survival. Ages 25-39, talk with your health care professional at least once every year for risk assessment, risk reduction counseling and a clinical breast exam. At age 40, begin getting mammograms unless you have a family history of breast cancer. I started mammograms at age 35 due to my family history.
  • Check yourself regularly- know your body so you know when it’s changing. Between regular screenings or exams, pay attention for the following:
  1. A lump, hard knot or thickening in the breast
  2. A lump under your arm
  3. A change in the size or shape of a breast
  4. Nipple pain, tenderness or discharge, including bleeding
  5. Itchiness, scales, soreness or rash on the nipple
  6. A nipple turning inward or inverted
  7. A change in color and texture (dimpling, puckering or redness)
  8. A breast that feels warm or swollen

The American Institute of Philanthropy’s Charity Watch cites 12 organizations as the top-rated cancer charities and of those there are three on the list that focus specifically on breast cancer prevention and research. If you are interested in donating to breast cancer research, please consider the following. I also have been heavily involved with Susan G Komen actually one of the first races I ever ran but they get a C rating due to heavy administration cost. 

Breast Cancer Research Foundation 

  • Mission: To prevent and cure breast cancer by advancing the world’s most promising research.
  • Rating: A+ 
  • Program percentage (percentage of its cash budget it spends on programs relative to overhead): 90% 
  • Cost to raise $100 (How many dollars a charity spends on fundraising to raise each $100 of contributions): $7 

National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund 
 

  • Mission: To end breast cancer; has set a deadline to know how to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020.
  • Rating: A 
  • Program percentage: 83% 
  • Cost to raise $100: $13 

Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (formerly Breast Cancer Fund) 
 

  • Mission: Working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.
  • Rating: A- 
  • Program percentage: 77%  
  • Cost to raise $100: $13 

Together we can beat breast cancer!!!

A Silent Killer- Domestic Violence

A Silent Killer- Domestic Violence

According to the CDC, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience violence by their intimate parter at some point during their lifetimes. … At least 5 million acts of  domestic occur annually to women aged 18 years and older.

October is domestic violence month and while you may think it doesn’t involve you or anyone you know or love. You maybe sadly wrong. People often live in fear and silence. I didn’t know how prevalence domestic violence was until two years ago this month. I had a good friend. We had been friends since college. I pledged her, after college I went to work then medical school and she moved to New York. We also kept in touch. When I lived in Philadelphia I used to go up on the train and always stayed with her. We shopped, we partied. I hung out with her linesisters. She taught be how to somewhat maneuver on the New York subway. I moved to Chicago. She later moved to the suburbs with her significant other and had a precious little girl. We didn’t talk as much but we always caught up at college homecoming.

Well October 2018 she was murdered by her significant other. I could not believe it. My friend was gone. A couple of weeks later another friend was murdered by her ex-husband. A week later an emergency room doctor was murdered by her ex-fiance at a hospital where I used to work. He also killed a police officer, and pharmacy student and would have killed more people had it not it not been for the receptionist. She called an alert, and moved patients out of the lobby.

I write this blog to bring awareness. Below are some signs of abuse. If you have a friend or family who is in an abusive relationship you can’t make them leave. They have to make that decision themselves. Do be a friend and be supportive. Also support legislation like

House Bill 3, a bipartisan measure known as Aisha’s Law, passed 94 to 0 May of 2020. The bill was named after my friend who was murdered by her ex-husband.

Under HB 3, victims would be referred to domestic violence survivors’ programs where they could get help in housing, job training, child care or other resources.

See below signs of abuse It usually doesn’t start with violence

Your partner bullies, threatens, or controls you: 

  • Accuses you of having an affair
  • Blames you for abuse
  • Criticizes you
  • Tells you what to wear and how you should look
  • Threatens to kill you or someone close to you 
  • Throws things or punches walls when angry
  • Yells at you and makes you feel small

Your partner controls your money:

  • Keeps cash and credit cards from you
  • Puts you on an allowance and makes you explain every dollar you spend
  • Keeps you from working whatever job you want
  • Steals money from you or your friends
  • Won’t let you have money for basic needs like food and clothes

Your partner cuts you off from family and friends: 

  • Keeps close tabs on where you go and whom you go with
  • Makes you ask for an OK to see friends and family
  • Embarrasses you in front of others, and it makes you want to avoid people

Your partner physically abuses you: 

  • Abandons you in a place you don’t know
  • Attacks you with weapons
  • Keeps you from eating, sleeping, or getting medical care
  • Locks you in or out of your house
  • Punches, pushes, kicks, bites, pulls hair

Your partner sexually abuses you: 

  • Forces you to have sex
  • Makes you dress in a sexual way
  • Makes you feel like you owe them sex
  • Tries to give you an STD
  • Won’t use condoms or other  birth control

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-domestic-abuse-signs#1

My ski club Sugar and Spice a part of the National Brotherhood of Skiers is doing it’s part and we are holding a virtual run/walk/bike with all the funds raise going to a domestic violence charity. I ask that you support and move something while helping to save a life. ( link in caption)

https://tinyurl.com/y2rhpw9o

Birth Month

Birth Month

August is my month but this year it was actually horrible so I extended my celebration to September to at least Virgo season. I say horrible as in comparison to other years. 2020 has been quite a year and while I tend to be a half glass full person life has been kicking my butt. I am doing my best to stay upbeat reason, and the reason I had to add September to the mix.

So my birth month started good with a date although the guy ended up being a cheap skate. Then I hung out with my line sister and Sorors at an outdoor restaurant. It actually felt like a normal Friday versus one in a pandemic. After finishing seventy-seven mile ride on the day before my birthday, my car was stolen from my parking garage. It was the best ride of the year and the most I had ridden and I felt strong the whole ride. I had planned a karaoke mini adventure thanks to a good friends that has a mom with a lake house for my actual birthday. So the weekend was not a total lost. After the ride I developed an injury that required a minor procedure that took me out for about five weeks. I could not swim, bike or run. I was basically struck at home similar to the initial quarantine.

I had orginally planned a weekend get away to Vegas to see a friend but Vegas was on the banned list of cities that required a fourteen day quarantine upon return to Illinois so I decided that would not be a good idea. So Labor day I planned a weekend get-away or I invited myself to a trip that one of my girls had planned. COVID had me scared. I wore my mask that makes me look like a space alien. I went to a beach get away where I basically read books, jet skied, and played in the water away from people. I did play a little at dinner, it was a nice COVID trip, and a nice wrap up to my birth month. When life gives you lemons you make lemonade.

What I Learned From Chadwick Boseman

What I Learned From Chadwick Boseman

I am still processing the loss of Chadwick Boseman. Although I never knew him personally, I feel like I knew his sprit. My heart hearts for all that truly knew and loved him. I pray for his mother, father, two brothers and his wife. I can’t image his wife’s pain. She had the love of her life who inspired so many and he is gone. I can’t image the void in her heart right now. Today I want to share what I learned from the way Chadwich lived his life and I hope that his lessons inspire me and others to live their best life no matter what.

  1. Cancer sucks, but the diagnosis in itself is not a death sentence. Chad was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016. He fought and did not let the disease dictate his life. He fulfilled his passion with the same drive and focus that he had prior. Some might say he had more passion and drive. Cancer has taken away so many that are near and dear to me starting with my parents. All of them left a legacy that continues and he is not any different.
  2. Live today like there will be no tomorrow. Call that person you have been meaning to call. Start that project that you always wanted to start. Tell that person that you have a crush on him or her. Go for it, as you only live once, and you don’t want to have any regrets
  3. Choose your circle wisely. Chadwick was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016 and his close circle kept his diagnosis private. His circle had his back and honored his wishes until the end.
  4. Along with number three, everyone does not need to be in your business. In the world of social medial it seems like people share a lot of information. Sometimes you feel you even know people you have never met. While this sometimes can be good, somethings are best kept private.
  5. Live you life according you your standards. Chadwick took transendent roles of real and fictional icons. He never settled. He spoke of his role on All My Children and the issue he had with the role in his address at Howard (see below). He demanded the best and he gave us the best. He left it all on the screen.
  6. Last but not least this is what I learned from Chadwick’s wife Taylor Simone Ledward. She found the love of her life it seems. He was diagnosed with cancer stage III which quicken advanced to stage IV. She knew she would not have the time with her love that she had hoped but she stayed, she loved, she took care of him. She was at his side when he left the earth. I learned to love a little harder although it is scary and nothing is guaranteed.

Rest well Chadwick Boseman our forever King #WakandaForever

Saddle Sores

Saddle Sores

This article is not for the faint at heart but knowledge is power. Don’t be like me. How many people have had a saddle sore?  Well I just had the worse experience ever with saddle sores. I have been seriously cycling for about three years when I started my multi-sport journey. I can attest that saddle sores are one of the most frustrating and uncomfortable ailments you can develop as a cyclist. They happen to all riders although some may not share as they happen in an intimate area of the body.  

WHAT ARE SADDLE SORES

When I made my first appointment with a dermatologist and said I had saddle sores. The receptionist had no clue what I was talking about. She did make my appointment though. A fellow triathlete referred me so I knew the physician actually had experience treating them. The doctor explained that saddle sores can be divided into two main types: those caused solely due to excessive friction. The friction causes extensive chaffing and then there those that result from infected hair follicles.

The most simple type of saddle sore is one that’s caused by abrasion of the skin due to excess friction. This can be caused by improper fit, or the wrong saddle. Abrasion saddle sores initially present as raw marks on the skin. If they develop further the skin can break or they can cause a crater-like in appearance.

Infected hair follicles result also are causes by excessive friction. Our skin normally has staph on it. Staph is a bacteria that lives in the skin. The excessive friction around a hair follicle causes breaks in the skin and this can cause an infection. This infection cause results in a small cyst that looks like a pimple to an large abscess that needs an formal incision in order to drain the area. 

HOW TO PREVENT SADDLE SORES

Experiment with different saddles. Find what best for you. I had to try two or three to get the best fit. It was especially difficult on my Triathlon bike. Get a bike fit by a professional.  My bit fitter actually help me decide on the best saddle for me.  Get out of your kit as soon as possible, and shower as soon as your can. If this is not possible baby wipes are a good option until you can get to a shower.  Wear good cycling shorts. This is really important with high mileage rides.  Don’t wear underwear under your cycling shorts. Avoid increasing mileage too soon.  Use chamois cream. I use them on all rides. Some people save for longer rides.  Reapply if possible every 3-4 hours.

https://amzn.to/3bk6fJk

Force yourself off of the saddle every 30 minutes or so. This is especially important on trainer rides as you are more stationary and it causes more pressure. One of the reason I love hills is while I am coasting on the descent I rest my bottom off of the saddle. There is not a consensus on shaving and waxing. Some say avoid it as it irritates the hair follicles and allow bacteria in those follicle. Also shaving and waxing can cause ingrown hairs. There is also the theory that hair provide a buffer to absorb some of the friction that would be transferred to the skin.  Some like me can’t go free- meaning can’t grow free. I believe the hair removal methods that causes the least irritation are laser or electrolysis. As Laser is long lasting removal, and electrolysis is permeant removal. 

HOW TO TREAT SADDLE SORES

If you develop an abrasion, a cyst treat it. I use A&D ointment. My dermatologist also recommended acne medication for pimple sized sore without open skin. Some use Noxzema, tea tree oil, etc. I usually visit my dermatologist and get a cortisone injection and this resolves it. I also use Lidoderm gel to numb the area when I can’t truly rest as I did before my IronMan race last year.  The best advice is to get some rest if you can.  Make sure you thoroughly clean the area. Sitz bathes and warm compresses help with the pain. If sores are severe and don’t get better don’t be like me stop cycling and go see someone before you develop an abscess and need an incision for it to clear up as the pain is unbearable.