Saturday, December 5, 2009

follow the leader

I went snowboarding last Wednesday! First official time this season. Only a couple of chairs were open and there wasn't any powder but the sun was shining and if it were the east coast, we would be calling it perfect conditions! Packed powder, sunshine, no lift lines and $15 tickets (plus a ten dollar clothing donation to the homeless shelter). Doesn't get much better than that. I did fall a couple times and that felt like the east coast for sure - ouch! Much more fun to fall in a pillow of powder. Speaking of falling, the terrain park was open and I was very tempted to give the rails a try for the first time. I did go in there but chickened out and slid right by. I was determined to try one before the end of the day but there were too many gangs of boarders hanging out by then so I'll live to try another day. Funny how a little rail scares me now. When I was a brand new boarder I was jumping off cornices. Maybe a little above my ability but I was just following a friend and if she could do it, so could I. It's so much easier to follow the leader than to be the leader. You see them make the jump, maybe they fall but they get back up again. It gives me the confidence and the courage to give it a try.

I am fortunate for the brca sisterhood. I know exactly what to expect, heading into my surgery, from what I should pack for the hospital, what to expect in terms of recovery and even advice and tips on easing back into the world of sex. I am glad I have people to follow. They survived and are happy and that gives me confidence. I feel like a little sister for the first time in my life and it feels great. I was never a follower as a kid but now I gladly reach for that hand to lead me through this journey. I anxiously await my twin's ooph next week. I need to hear her tell me that all is ok and that if she can do it, I can do it. Oddly enough, while I am being a follower I also become a leader for the next batch of brca sisters - the newbies. And while I am waiting for my sister to survive her ooph, she is waiting for me to survive my pbm in february. She wants to see me come out ok and tell her that if I can do it, so can she. I look forward to being done, being on the other side, giving someone else advice and strength and the ability to find their inner courage.

As I've mentioned before, I have a great team of docs and counselors, etc that give so much of themselves to the cancer community. I'd like to start volunteering and give back but they like the survivors to wait a year after their treatment is over. I guess we are not mentally or physically stable enough to help? But I have been able to participate in a couple of studies so far. I did a big, ten year study for diabetes that involved my tissue, blood, a lot of travel and taking meds but the two cancer studies I'm in now are simple and just involve a tiny bit of time and filling out some paperwork.

Here is a little info about Dr Steven Narod's study (with a goal of finding better prevention and treatment of brca+).

This study is officially called the Risk Factor Analysis of Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer and it was started in 1995 and now has about 9,500 female participants from across the United States, Canada, Europe, Central and South America, and Asia. Even though many women continue to enroll in the study every year, we would like you to help us spread the word about this study because having a bigger study population will lead to more accurate results and a better understanding of the prevention and treatment options for BRCA mutation carriers.

So please help us expand our research and consider joining Dr. Narod's study, to be eligible you need to be a female BRCA mutation carrier, be at least 25 years of age, regardless of whether you have had cancer or not, you qualify. To join the study, all you need to do is fill out a survey that asks questions about your health and lifestyle. The questionnaire takes about 20 minutes to complete, and you are only asked to do it every two years.
  Email if you are interested or want more info.

The second study is for a college student who is interested in the mental aspects of surviving cancer. She is looking for bc survivors who underwent treatment within the last 4 years.
I am currently a graduate student at California School of Professional Psychology working on my PhD in clinical psychology. My passion is to work with women who are breast cancer survivors and improve quality of life during/after treatment. I am conducting my dissertation research study in the area of breast cancer survivors and predictors of depression. I believe that the mind and body should be treated simultaneously and more research is needed in this area.

I am seeking women breast cancer survivors between the ages of 18 and 80 to participate in my study investigating predictors of depression. Eligibility includes completion of initial breast cancer treatment within the last 4 years.

If you are interested in participating or would like more information please contact me at:

Emily Meier

I am located in San Diego, CA, however, it is possible for participation outside of San Diego.

I think it is important that we don't forget survivors in the fight against breast cancer! More research is needed to understand what difficulties breast cancer survivors may experience after diagnosis and treatment.


  1. If you'd come over to the darkside (facebook) you'd have an even bigger sisterhood around you - I think I may have more brca sisters than I do real life friends and family! lol

    That's great that you & your sister are able to be there for each other like that. Really awesome

  2. Yeah, awesome and sad at the same time. I wish she wasn't walking in my footsteps but she does make good company.