19 October 2012, 18:42

Bloggers abolishing breast cancer: how 3 women are changing the statistics on breast cancer

Bloggers abolishing breast cancer: how 3 women are changing the statistics on breast cancer

At a routine follow up exam Sue Kilburn waited anxiously for her results. During a regular mammogram her test showed that further analysis was needed. Kilburn’s breast tissue was dense, or fibrocystic, which made it harder for doctors to determine the reading. This drill was typical for her and she thought nothing of the double checking until the nurse came in, her face said it all – it was breast cancer.

“I’m a nurse, I fix things. So now the out of control [feeling I had was] I can’t fix this,” explained Kilburn, who is a clinical nurse breast health educator and has her own blog, to the Voice of Russia. Her expertise in the field though is not just from her years of study and education. “I’ve walked the walk [I tell patients]. I do empathize with what you’re going through because I’ve been through it myself,” said Kilburn, who is 7 years out on this journey. She is one of the over 2.9 million survivors of breast cancer in the US, according to the American Cancer Society, all thanks to early detection and the lumpectomy she had, alongside radiation and chemo.

Tami Lynn Boehmer hopes to join that list of survivors. Boehmer was diagnosed back in 2002 only to find out that it had come back with a vengeance in 2008 – stage IV. Although she enjoyed 5 years living cancer-free, she’s been going in and out of remission since she was 45. From this point on, she has put on her “boxing gloves” and has been bravely fighting the ailment.

“Once the shock and fear subsided a bit, my feelings turned to anger. An oncologist at the world’s premier cancer center told me in 2008 I would certainly die of breast cancer. I got angry, and it inspired me to start my blog www.miraclesurvivors.com and write my book From Incurable to Incredible,” said Boehmer, whose biggest fear is the treatment [chemotherapy] not working, to the Voice of Russia. As of right now, her doctors tell her that the chemo is working, which is good news to her caring husband and daughter.

By the end of October, Ann Silberman hopes to hear the same words from her doctor that her chemo’s working. Back in 2009 Silberman was told she had stage II breast cancer. After 6 rounds of chemo and 12 months of Herceptin(a specially formulated drug to help destroy breast cancer), paired with a right side mastectomy, she finally felt like she was out of the woods. Then in 2011, she got hit with the horrible news.

“They found the cancer had spread to my liver, so I am now stage IV. I had a liver resection and ablation and have been on chemo ever since,” Silberman said to the Voice of Russia. The most difficult hurdle to jump over for this fighter—was quitting her job as a high school secretary. “I loved that job. It was great working with the teachers and the kids and keeping the school running smoothly. I miss it every day. I quit in July of this year to focus on my health,” explained Silberman who blogs about her adventure through the unknown.

Each woman has had a unique quest of her own, but they have all ended up in the infusion room. This is a room where chemotherapy is administered and is a breeding ground for inspirational stories and heart-felt battles through the trenches of cancer. Although the chemo seems to be working, a different medicine they are taking has a powerful impact with instant results. A loving overdose of laughter and family is what resets their life back to positive notions and a feel-good attitude.

“We have a Grandma Camp every year, where the grandchildren come to visit me for the week but it has turned out that all my kids and grandkids and dogs that can make it home do come home for Grandma Camp. We even made a Grandma Camp t-shirt for everyone this year,” Kilburn said in a satisfied tone. It is her sense of humor that has kept her sane and optimistic.

When Boehmer lost her hair from chemo, she was surprised at how her daughter reacted. “My concern about her reaction to losing my hair was unfounded. She laughed and told me I looked like a character on one of the cartoons she watched all the time,” told Boehmer who was relieved to know her daughter wasn’t upset about the ordeal.

Even Silberman’s family took it like champs. “I believe that your family takes their cues from you. Since I was okay with it, they were too. I’m not a weepy type of person and so I just set about to live the best that I could. So did they,” Silberman said.

Breast cancer death rates have been decreasing, as stated on cancer.org which leaves grand expectations for these three women and others who can relate. Monthly self-breast checks and yearly evaluations from the doctor are a must as each blogger advocates. This protocol is for both women and men alike. Women are often the target of breast cancer, yet men show about the same survival rate as women as reported by cancer.gov. Just because no one had this struggle in their family tree, doesn’t mean much. “I had no family history of breast cancer, no risk factors that I knew of, “explained Silberman whose doctor said her mom’s breast cancer had no genetic bearing on Silberman’s diagnosis.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Now more than ever, education on this topic is needed not just on a local scale but a global one. Even though the US is a developed nation, their breast cancer rate is quite high. Russia is not so far behind, according to statistics from worldlifeexpectancy.com. Moreover, a detailed report pointed out that 50,000 Russian women get diagnosed with breast cancer, every year.

In the here and now, these three bloggers on breast cancer have the same goals in mind, to keep the cancer away, to live a happy life, and to make sure women and men know the importance of monthly checking.

Pink Ribbon

Inc. should add a stripe of blue though, so men understand that this disease is not gender specific – rather it picks on the human race as a whole. Breast cancer can be beaten. Kilburn, Boehmer, and Silberman know that the best way to being two steps ahead of the cancer is to be educated, have support, and feel empowered.

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