Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nothing But Blue Skies

Inspired by one of my breasties, Wendy Nielsen and the title she gave my guest post this month, I thought I would sign off Pinktober with the color BLUE. Blue for my fave new song Nothing But Blue Skies, and for my fresh outlook on life. This beautiful color is also a tribute to the men out there trying to get some recognition and funding for breast cancer with films like Times Like These. And since I'm a bit further out now from round-freakin' 3 of the Big C., I thought I would sum up how I feel (at least for today) with Irving Berlin's song, Blue Skies. Little did this great, Russian-American composer know that 87 years after he wrote it, some random breast cancer survivor would adopt it as her new anthem in life. So, thanks Irv - much appreciated! And yes, there are Nothing But Blue Skies, Smiling at me! 

Blue Skies
by Irving Berlin

I was blue, just as blue as I could be 
Ev'ry day was a cloudy day for me 
Then good luck came a-knocking at my door 
Skies were gray but they're not gray anymore 

Blue skies 
Smiling at me 
Nothing but blue skies 
Do I see 

Singing a song 
Nothing but bluebirds 
All day long 

Never saw the sun shining so bright 
Never saw things going so right 
Noticing the days hurrying by 
When you're in love, my how they fly 

Blue days 
All of them gone 
Nothing but blue skies 
From now on 

I should care if the wind blows east or west 
I should fret if the worst looks like the best 
I should mind if they say it can't be true 
I should smile, that's exactly what I do

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sky's the Limit! Writing a New Story...

Today, I was featured on Wendy Nielsen's blog, 'Writing a New Story.' She has featured several touching stories from breast cancer warriors this month and I am honored to not only be on Wendy's blog but to be among the sea of kick-ass warriors (including Wendy!). So, click on over there to read the full story, learn a little bit more about my thoughts about this crazy cancer journey and be sure to read the other stories while you're there. They are truly amazing! Thank you Wendy!

Picture courtesy of Wendy Nielsen's blog post
on me about my journey!

"31. 34. 51. She says they aren't her measurements. What are they then? Meet Dee Anne Barker. She's a three time breast cancer survivor and those numbers reflect her age at each diagnosis. Today she shares her incredible story. Read more..."

Image courtesy of Wendy Nielsen's blog, Writing a New Story

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer Knockdown!

One of my fave breast friends Ann Marie Giannino-Otis, over at Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer is going the distance once again by taking a jab at breast cancer on the cover of Syracuse Women Magazine. Her cover story of course, not only details her effervescent personality and warrior ways, but her philanthropic means of helping others through the world of cancer. She has a strong following and holds fun and purposeful events on a monthly basis for her non-profit Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer - SDBC (her son's name for breast cancer).

When I first came across Ann Marie on her Twitter page I almost "fell off my unicorn" (her words, not mine) reading all of her tweets. With kind words, hilarious sayings and her fundraising efforts, I was hooked!

Keeping it real, meaningful and sassy, Ann Marie will stop at nothing when it comes to advocating for herself and others. Insisting that people know the real side of the breast cancer journey, her posts on the SDBC Facebook page are guaranteed to be full of left hooks and power punches. I've seen her take on numerous people making light of this journey and she'll have no part of it. Sassy but heartfelt, she'll take on anyone that attempts to knock down any of her girls and followers.

So, follow her, like her (she's VERY likable!) and get to know the real side of breast cancer - pictures and all! And if you cross her, you can be sure that she'll challenge you to a round of You vs. Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer and Knock.You.Out!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Male Breast Cancer Documentary: 'Times Like These'

When I first came across these two guys, my heart just sank and immediately took me back to the early 90's to a time when a friend/colleague of mine (also named Bob) was diagnosed with breast cancer not too long after my first diagnosis. We were instantly bonded in that breast cancer way even though 'One-Boob-Bob' (his own nickname!) and I were different genders of the same cancer. We did cancer-survivor fashion shows together, fundraisers, and walks to raise awareness for the masses, but frankly, he was the only guy out there among a sea of women. And so, my first introduction to male breast cancer was born out of Bob's diagnosis.

Fast forward  20 years and a few weeks ago when I came across these two guys, Bill and Bob, on their Facebook pageI was captivated instantaneously and thought, FINALLY, someone is addressing the male side of breast cancer! The side that few are aware of or maybe even ignore. But it's for real, so here are a few stats that may surprise you but will aide in your knowledge of this female dominated cancer during the annual October Breast Cancer awareness campaign:
  • There are 2000 new male breast cancer cases diagnosed every year
  • 25% of men diagnosed with breast cancer will die
  • Men of all ages can be affected with breast cancer
So, let's cut to the chase so you'll know how to help with Bill and Bob's campaign. First,  click here to watch the trailer of two extraordinary men who were complete strangers but were brought together through their breast cancer diagnosis. Secondly, please donate any dollar amount that you can on their Kickstarter campaign page so that they can finish this very important film 'Times Like These' and generate more awareness about male breast cancer. Lastly, know the signs and risks of male breast cancer for either yourself or loved ones.

There are only 23 more days to help fund this campaign! So, please help spread the word by forwarding this blog post, their Facebook page and their Kickstarter crowdfunding page! 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's BRA Day!

Yes, it's 'BRA Day!' (Breast Reconstruction Day!). But then again, every day is BRA Day to me! I see them, I feel them (well not completely) and I shift them around a bit, that's how it goes with the new girls. But, it was my choice and I'm standing by it! It may not be for everyone, but I'm still glad I did. If you want to watch my journey with reconstruction, click here for last year's video on October 26th, 2012 - a day I will never forget. I gave my surgeon a pep talk in the pre-op room, my sweet mom and lovely partner Hil were with me all the way, and I went in for what I hoped to be the final surgery in this process. So far, so good! 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Metastatic Breast Cancer Day

MBC doesn't get much attention, but it should! Just thought you should know that this is where we truly need funding and research dollars to go to! No pink overlays here, this sh*t's for real! Read below - you'll be stunned at the reality of MBC.

(This post is dedicated to Lisa Bonchek Adams, Jody Schoger, and the many others out there with MBC- so many - too many! Please also add your name, or another person's name in the comments section below to honor their integrity and crusade against MBC!)

1. No one dies from breast cancer that remains in the breast. Metastasis occurs
when cancerous cells travel to a vital organ and that is what threatens life.

2. Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to different parts of the body: bones,
liver, lungs or brain.

3. An estimated 155,000 Americans are currently living with metastatic breast
cancer. Metastatic breast cancer accounts for approximately 40,000 deaths
annually in the U.S.

4. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is life-long and focuses on control of
the disease and quality of life.

5. About 6% to 10% of people are Stage IV from their initial diagnosis.

6. Early detection does not guarantee a cure. Metastatic breast cancer can
occur 5, 10 or 15 years after a person's original diagnosis and successful
treatment checkups and annual mammograms.

7. 20% to 30% of people initially diagnosed with early stage disease will develop
metastatic breast cancer.

8. Young persons, as well as men, can be diagnosed with metastatic breast

9. Like early stage breast cancer, there are different types of metastatic breast

10. Treatment choices are guided by breast cancer type, location and extent of
metastasis in the body, previous treatments and other factors.

11. Metastatic breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence. Although most
people will ultimately die of the disease, some will live long, productive lives.

12. There are no definitive prognostic statistics for metastatic breast cancer.
Every patient and their disease are unique.

13. To learn more about National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day and
access resources specifically for people living with metastatic breast cancer
and their caregivers, visit www.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cancer Center of Santa Barbara: Walk. Run. Donate.

If there's one way to give back this month, it should definitely be to your local cancer center!

I've been treated at 2 cancer centers over the past 20 years and with this last cancer diagnosis (I emphasize LAST!), I was beyond fortunate to have had amazing care from the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara. From the front desk gals, to the librarian, the 'Wig Guy,' the wonderful chemo nurses (AKA my 'Purple Angels'), my brilliant oncologist Dr. G., the snack lady, my hometown Physician's Assistant, to the financial assistant counselors and the uber kind, nurse navigator Tammy (AKA, my nurse 'GPS'), a cancer center can become a second home to a patient and their family. I know it was for me.

I actually looked forward to going into the CCSB (minus the chemo!) because of the remarkable amount of care that I received. Everyone knew my name and we were often greeted 50 feet away from the reception desk with "Oh no, here comes trouble!" I'm telling you, these people go beyond their job descriptions by showing selflessness, compassion and human kindness. A place where a patient like myself can feel 1000% support and emotionally safe. And oddly enough, one of the most positive places I could turn to during the past 2 years.

So, in light of my own PINKTOBER campaign this month, I highly recommend that you consider putting your pink dollars into your own cancer center community. A place where patients like myself can attend art classes, yoga, pick out free scarves and wigs and a place that assisted me in accessing nearly $35,000 in grant money to pay for all of my infusion treatments in 2013 when I personally ran out of funds.

So.... Give back. Give local. Give now. And while you're at it, consider contributing to my cancer center's  Walk - Run this weekend in Santa Barbara; a great cause indeed.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bowling 4 BOOBIES!

That's right, you heard me say BOOBIES! And in keeping with this month's theme of introducing you to some great warriors, organizations and causes, this one is a must donate, must go event!

So listen, this fundraising event is happening this Sunday in L.A. and I was slated to be on the 'Boobie Bowlers' team but because of various life and medical events, our team is on hold until the next bowling event!

But hey, you can still go and show your support for this uber fun and meaningful event; an organization close to my heart that provides financial assistance to local women fighting and living with breast cancer. Because, as I've said before but will say it again, this breast cancer gig can be expensive. With bills like $65,000 for a hospital stay, $1,000 anesthesiology payments, $15,000 per chemo treatment every 3 weeks, a post-chemo-session Neulasta shot that was $3,000 for 6 treatments and $9,000 Herceptin treatments every 3 weeks for a year! It adds up. So, help a girl out by either donating online or by showing up for this awesome bowling event!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013


As I marinate in the pro's and con's of Breast Cancer Awareness month and all of its pink glory, I internally struggle with how to make it more about people vs. spending some greenbacks on a pink cuisinart that has yet to find me a cure. And as my sister Kim and I often joke around with our 'Pink, Pink you Stink!' mantra, I have decided to shift my efforts this year from raising funds that have NOT found a cure for breast cancer to raising awareness about some pretty awesome warriors and causes. So, stay tuned during the month of PINKTOBER and I promise to deliver an ample amount of very groovy peeps, tributes and fabulous events that I know you can stand behind and appreciate. Because the bottom line is that I am beyond weary of this disease, people dying and no cure in sight! Instead, let's all simply give some well-deserved salutes where needed and cross our fingers that all of that pink paraphernalia might actually buy us what we truly need - a cure.