Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day

My Yiayia (Greek for Gandmother) used to tell me that she visited my Pappoús (Greek for Grandfather) every Memorial Day.  He was a WWII vet who was given a letter of commendation for saving his captain's life.  He died shortly after I was born, so I don't know him, but everyone just loved him. They said he was funny and kind. 

For the last four years, my Yiayia and my mother are barried next to my Pappoús.  So visiting this Memorial Day was an emotional ball.  I hate driving there, but I love being there.  It's like writing an e-mail or text.  You can't see the other side of the conversation, but you know they are there; if that makes sense.  I just feel whole, like a family again.

My aunt plants flowers every Memorial Day around the family headstone.  This year my children and their cousins (my brother's children) were there to help.  I remember planting flowers every spring with my mother.  I remember my grandmother's affinity to the rose bushes we had on the side of our house.  She was come in bloody from the thorns, but she loved to prune and trim and clip bouquets. 

It was a nice few hours to spend with everyone talking and laughing and just being together again.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Relay for Life 2013- Luminarias

These brave women who lost their fights with cancer paved a path for me and others to become empowered to make better choices and gain knowledge of our own risks.  These involuntary martyrs saved so many lives.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

By law, it's covered!

As I sift through the Angelina Jolie post, articles and news bits, I see this recurring attitude that somehow Angelina being rich made it possible for her to have corrective surgery.  This is SO not the case.

Based on Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA), all insurance plans that cover mastectomy also cover related medical needs like reconstruction.  The U.S. Department of labor has a fabulous FAQ section on this very topic: Your Rights After A Mastectomy

If you have Medicare/Medicaid, the law doesn't cover you the same.  And in the BRCA situation, it might not cover reconstruction;  but that is determined by individual states.  According to Cancer.org;

"Do the WHCRA requirements apply to Medicare or Medicaid?

No. The law does not apply to Medicare and Medicaid.  Still, Medicare covers breast reconstruction if you had a mastectomy because of breast cancer. Medicaid coverage varies in each state, so you will have to get this information for your state."

I expected, at some point, a negative backlash on Angie, although I have to admit, I was hoping it was going to be all support and sunshine.  I felt however that I had to but this falsehood to rest.  Woman are protected well.  There is still work to be done, for sure, but BRCA carriers and women with breast cancer are not doomed to be un-womanly, or "mutilated" because of their economic status.  And Angelina's reconstruction has nothing to do with her wealth.  Actually, unless Hollywood now offers group insurance plans, I bet she did pay her surgeries out of pocket; where mine was covered completely. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Another Sister

Angelina Jolie announced yesterday that she too carries the BRCA1 mutation and has had prophylactic surgery to remove both breasts. 

Cancer is blind, it does not see color, gender, wealth, intelligence, education, place in life or any discriminating factor.

Know your risk, and address it appropriately.

Article: Angelina Jolie Reveals She Had Preventative Double Mastectomy

I really like the way she explained her situation and decision in this article: My Medical Choice

It didn't happen often, but there were women, men, people that strongly disagreed with my choice to have prophylactic surgery.  Someone even said I "mutilated my body."  Despite overwhelming support from family and friends, there are always whispers that are heard a little louder, and comments that are taken a bit harder and stares that can make you feel tiny and ashamed.  I am glad Angelina is speaking out.  I love this blog, but she has the real power and captive audience to speak about what it's like to have BRCA and why it completely changes a person's life.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Race for the Cure DC 2013

The Race for the Cure DC was this morning and it was a great morning!  The weather held out nicely.  It wasn't too hot or too cold, although quite humid.  I had a great race coming in at 26.45!  That's a new personal record by officially nearly 3 minutes, but technically 1.5 minutes (I've had faster training times, since my last official 5k).  The event was awesome, the speakers were amazing, we were a force of pink ripping through the Mall.  I love our new Mother's Day tradition!  The race was followed by brunch and Georgetown Cupcakes....enough said.  Perfect day. 

Happy Mother's Day to all the mother of all kinds.  I miss mine everyday, every moment.  Another moment missed today when I crossed that finish line.  I know she was watching from heaven.

For every starting line;
and every finish line.
For every miles I run;
and every step I take;
you are with me, mom.

Pre-race, runner's start

Post race, face! (we don't even look winded)