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Varenne and Bob at a jazz festival
My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 54 and died just before her 60th birthday. We miss her so much! During the last 12 years, I’ve had 3 operations for the removal of breast tumors. Two were found due to my monthly self breast exams. Thank God, all were benign. I never miss my annual mammography exams or doing monthly self exams. I have a lot to live for… two absolutely beautiful daughters, great family and friends and a wonderful man in my life.
I am pictured here with my honey enjoying a jazz festival in Maryland … something we have done every year for the last 11 years. And, I pray for many more to come. Don’t take the gift of life for granted — schedule your annual check-ups and definitely do monthly “self-checks”!
Janet and her family
“Regarding my mom, I was 29 years old when I lost her to colon and liver cancer.
Since then, I vowed to take very seriously my good health (not a guarantee but a gift in this life). In addition to eating well and working out daily, I have chosen to think of early detection as life affirming and not simply perfunctory. I get my mammogram on my birthday. And I treat my once-every-three years colonoscopy as a spa day that I actually look forward to. Last time, I did the necessary pre-screening cleansing (not my favorite part), went in and got the best IV! Spent the following day getting a massage, doing my nails and toes and basking in a good report from my doctor.”
As a volunteer with Self chec I learned that breaking lifelong habits was possible and something I was capable of.
My eldest son (while training for the 2012 NYC Marathon) challenged me to get healthy so that I could live longer and be a more active Grandpa. I have been a lifelong workaholic, smoker and couch potato. So at 61 years old on Easter of 2012 I quit smoking. I saw my doctor and got a stress test and began exercising at a gym with a trainer.
My major accomplishments to date have been to climb Bear Mt. twice and to enjoy bike rides on the trails along the Bronx River. My current goal is to bike to the top of a very long and steep hill in front of Ridgeway School. I can get about half way up before I have to stop and catch my breath.
My younger son who will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro this winter break said that he would hold a sign up when he reached the summit with the words “Ridgeway” on it to encourage me.But the best part is, each and every time I come home from a walk or a bike ride, my bride of 36 years tells me how proud she is of me!
My grandson is a joy and watching my son grow into fatherhood is amazing. I have tried to change my unhealthy habits before but with the support of my entire family I have become a happy, healthy and focused non-smoker with lots of new hobbies to keep me busy.
Self-checking and Self chec are so important I’m doing fine. What a curveball! I had a mammogram and routine breast exam in December. Mammogram showed nothing but the doctor pointed out a couple of lumps she said I should have checked out. Scheduled another mammogram in June, by which time I noticed that one of the lumps had doubled, not in size, but it had become two lumps. Still, the June mammogram showed nothing! But I told them that the lump had doubled, so they did a sonogram and lo and behold! There it was. It looked just like it felt. Two little lumps, connected, kinda like dumbbells. Amazing. Anyway, so they did a core needle biopsy and found that it was cancer. Had a lumpectomy. Went to India to see my parents for two weeks. Got back. Now I’m starting radiation and tamoxifen. It’s SO important to know your body. Had I not noticed the change in my breast, I could have been in a much different situation.
I’m always going to the doctor – I go regularly – and I hear all the time through Public Service Announcements, etc., that there are things I should get regularly: testicular exam, chest x-rays (as a smoker), etc. And I do GO to the doctor, but often these tests just never happen. I think one way we could attack this problem is to a) empower people like me to ASK about the tests we’re supposed to be getting, and not just assume the doctor knows best, and b) remind the doctors of the importance of getting all these preventative tests done when people are already in the office: make the most of the visit.
Ellen teaching art to her young student
In 1999, I had two successful surgeries for melanoma. The suspicious birthmarks were discovered by my dermatologist during my regular skin checks. Because I have irregular birthmarks and have had severe sunburns, as a child, I schedule routine skin examinations during the year to catch skin cancer and melanoma early. My dermatologist and naturopath recommended that I strengthen my immune system by eating healthier, taking supplements, cutting down on stress and avoiding toxins, along with checking my own skin regularly, wearing sun protective clothing and sun block and avoiding the sun during peak hours. It’s working. I haven’t had a suspicious lesion in eighteen months.