How I Survived Triple Negative Breast Cancer

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Written by Chiara D’Agostino, Breast Cancer Survivor and author of the Cancer Fashion Blog www.beautythroughthebeast.com 

I found the lump on my birthday, October 25th, 2014. It wasn’t a happy 43rd. August 2014 I had my routine mammogram and a week later the letter from the hospital arrived; everything was “normal.” Apparently, I have dense tissue in my breasts so the mammogram didn’t detect the lump. (Ladies, if you have dense tissue in your breasts – ask your radiologist – don’t stop at just a mammogram!) As soon as I felt it, I knew the mass didn’t belong in my body; fear enveloped me.

A mammogram, an ultrasound, an MRI, a chest and abdomen CT scan, a bone scan and a few biopsies later, I received the diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer, stage three. Triple negative means my cancer is not fueled by any hormones: estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2); it is fast growing and has a higher percentage of reoccurring in other parts of my body.

The thread throughout my cancer diagnosis was fear. It gripped me tightly in its hands and whirled me around until I was dizzy and exhausted. I felt alone in my terror; friends and family would try and ease the pain by saying “There’s a cure!” “Breast cancer is the best kind of cancer to have!” and “You’ll be fine, my sister/cousin/hairdresser had it and she survived!” I politely nodded my head, thinking to myself, “You’re not God, you don’t know if I will be that small percentage of women that die from breast cancer – it happens!” I was being realistic. I wanted my fear to be acknowledged; I longed to be heard, and held, not patronized.

The steps I took that got me through my cancer diagnosis and treatment:

  • I clearly asked for what I wanted, whether it was lentil soup, a foot massage, silently being held on the couch or phone calls from friends; I didn’t assume people knew what I wanted.
  • I was my own health advocate, making the necessary phone calls to my insurance and doctors: I scheduled many appointments, second and sometimes third opinions.
  • I accepted offers from friends, family and acquaintances for accompaniment to appointments; if no one offered, I asked. Even if it was a simple test I could clearly go to by myself, I needed their company to distract me from my catastrophic thinking.
  • I got a copy of every medical report, scan, test, x-ray, etc. that was done to me. I made sure I understood what was happening, asking my doctor questions along the way.
  • I kept a diary of all of my appointments; what was done, where, and who was the ordering doctor.
  • During chemo, I relied heavily on the nurses – they provide all the caring and a wealth of knowledge and tips.
  • I threw cancer parties: a “Fuck Cancer” party after I received my diagnosis, and a “Boob-bye” party the night before my mastectomy. I’m the kind of person that needs support from my friends, so I made it happen.
  • I wore my natural looking wig when I wanted, and replaced it with hats towards the end; the wig was annoying. I did have fun at one point and bought an array of different colored wigs: I felt like a rock star when I wore them and got many compliments.
  • I posted on Facebook (that’s my way of communicating to many people, but there’s also www.caringbridge.org) that I encouraged phone calls and visits, and then I received them – that made me happy.
  • I made sure to get out every day, whether to run an errand, have a meal with a friend or see a movie with one, getting out and hearing people talk about their lives was refreshing.
  • I watched a lot of television, which is unnatural for me. It took my mind off of myself, and during chemo, it helped me to relax; I stuck to comedy and romance.
  • I watched Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Cancer It scared me, but it also made me feel like I am not alone.
  • I spoke to other survivors I knew and met up with them for coffee. When I felt overwhelmed, I took a break.
  • I made my cancer accessible: I answered people’s questions about my health and diagnosis then I’d change the subject.
  • I bought several breast cancer books and flipped through them, with a friend, when I had a specific question; reading them alone was too scary.
  • I joined Facebook groups for triple negative breast cancer and the likes, and when I got overwhelmed or scared, I stopped reading the posts.
  • I limited googling information about my type of cancer.
  • I brought the same friend with me to each important appointment; she took notes and learned the breast cancer vocabulary alongside me. I turned to her during my decision-making process.
  • I called a cancer support hotline in New York City, SHARE, and spoke at length to a survivor on the phone. I was relieved – I finally felt heard, understood and supported! I keep in close contact with SHARE and still go to their cancer support groups.
    • Cancer support groups are monumental in my recovery: I learn a lot from the facilitators and the survivors, and I can speak my mind in a safe environment, where I am unconditionally loved and understood.
    • I was afraid to attend support groups for fear of hearing horror stories. When I was ready, I gave it a try. I listened to each woman and learned, reminding myself that every woman is different and her story will not necessarily be mine.
    • I attended breast cancer support groups in various different locations, and only returned to those that have a well-trained facilitator; some are too big or disorganized.
  • I found a local, reputable hospital that offers free classes to cancer patients and attended their weekly Mindful Meditation class, Stress Management class, Art Therapy class and Chi Gong class. I could relate to the people and I benefitted from learning techniques to relax my body and mind.
  • I attended weekly therapy sessions with my therapist, sometimes more than once a week.
  • I spoke to the oncology social worker at my hospital as often as needed.
  • I saw a psychiatrist and got on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills; at first I felt ashamed, but once the pills took effect, I was relieved.
  • I cried when I felt like it – for me, it came out all at once when I arrived home from the hospital, post-mastectomy: a breakdown.
  • I visited a holistic healer weekly, the energy healing was nurturing. I yearned for healing hands on my body, not those that poked or prodded me.
  • I got massages or facials regularly. At the time, someone was helping me financially, but massage and Reiki can be found free for cancer patients at your hospital.
  • I rested when I was tired, sleeping as much as needed, guilt-free.
  • I accepted help and asked for it when wanted (not just needed.)
  • I aimed to walk an hour a day; it felt therapeutic to breathe fresh air and circulate the blood in my body.
  • I drank a lot of Fiji water.
  • I ate healthy- lots of protein, greens and fruit, limited sugar and dairy intake.
  • I posted on Facebook that I wanted soup, and got containers of delicious homemade soups delivered to my door for weeks!
  • I learned which family, friends and acquaintances are there for me and which aren’t. I was shocked in both good and bad ways, accepting the results.
  • I did a lot of journaling.
  • I created a cancer fashion blog, beautythroughthebeast.com and blog regularly.
  • I’m now giving back and reaching out to women who are being diagnosed.
  • I surround my self with positive affirmations.
  • I rid myself of toxic people and environments.
  • When I want to do something and hear a doubting voice in my head, I take action anyway! Today, I go for it. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so I make the most of today.

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Fashion Show Designers Announced for Wine Women & Shoes

Breast Cancer Charities, Breast Cancer News, iGoPink Blog, Media Center, Style & Fashion, Uncategorized No Comments
Pictured Above: Hector Villarreal, LUCHO & Erica Johnson, Breast Cancer Charities of America

Pictured Above: Hector Villarreal, LUCHO & Erica Johnson, Breast Cancer Charities of America

Four name-brand designers have joined the New York-Style Runway show that will be spotlighting the night at Wine Women and Shoes on September 24. 
 
Kendra Scott will be dazzling the runway as the Exclusive Jewelry Sponsor as well as the fabulous ‘Sip & Sparkle’ champagne & bling lounge; Trina Turk will be providing a sneak peek at their fall look-book as the Exclusive Apparel Sponsor; Elaine Turner will be showcasing their gorgeous line of Fall handbags; and Uptown Park’s custom shoe designer, LUCHO, will grace the catwalk with gorgeous stilettos every woman will want. 
 
“This is going to be THE Fall fashion event you will want to be at” said Erica Johnson, Executive Director of The Breast Cancer Charities of America.  “The looks that will be gracing the runway are stunning and this year we have some amazing surprises in the show that you won’t want to miss.”
 
Wine Women & Shoes Houston’s fashion show will also be celebrating the health and survivorship of five beautiful breast cancer survivors from Montgomery County who will be gracing the runway in gowns from Couture House.  The evening is presented by EXIT Lone Stare Realty and proceeds will benefit The Breast Cancer Charities of America.
 
Tickets for Wine Women & Shoes are available now.  VIP tickets are available on a first come first serve basis.  Sponsorship opportunities also remain.  To find out more information visit: www.WineWomenandShoes.com/Houston  
 
Additional event sponsors include: BMW The Woodlands & Houston North, CHLOE Wine Collection, A Memorable Event, Radiance Advanced Skin & Body Care, A Memorable Event, Morgan Stanley, The Lind Institute of Plastic Surgery, blo Blow Dry Bar, Massage Heights, Villa Sport, The Vein Doctors, Pinnacle Point Insurance, Four Seasons Veterinary Hospital, Speedpro Imaging, Mindy Harmon Photography, Brio Tuscan Grille, KB Kasuals, Rhinestone Leopard, Armario de la Bella, Tara Flannery Photography, Stori Brie Photography, Nnene Mbonu Photography, Nearly Me, Neal Hamil Agency, The Woodlands Waterway Marriott, Double P Bakery, South Walton Florida, Reviewit, Sunny 99.1, Fox 26, The Woodlands Lifestyles & Homes, Living Magazine, ConnexionW, Community Impact, 99.7 K-Star Country, I am Magazine and Woodlands Online. 


DIY Fun Ideas for Shoe Makeover

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Best in Shoe DIY WW&S

Turn a pair of old boring shoes into the BEST high heels ever! With these fun ideas and decorations, you can easily give any pair a fabulous makeover – and even possibly WIN the Best in Shoe contest at our upcoming Wine, Women & Shoes event on Thursday, September 24th. Learn more about the event at winewomenandshoes.com/houston

So grab your girlfriends – it’s time for a shoe makeover!

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First, grab a pair of plain high heels. We found this pair for only $16 at a local discount shoe store!
Next, assemble your favorite decorations (feathers, bling, ribbon, glitter, etc), adhesive (Mod Podge, Hot Glue gun and glue), scissors, paper to cover the table, old shoe box (for sprinkling glitter or painting), craft brushes and sponges, and put on your creative thinking hat.
Now, it’s time to start decorating!

 

How to create a pink-tastic feathered pair of blinged-out heels:
1. With a hot glue gun, apply string of silver sequins at around the shoe’s toe by placing a line of hot glue and pressing the string of sequins carefully with an end of a marker/pencil/pointer object.

2. Next apply pink feathers from the heel to the toe of each side with a glue gun. You can do this carefully by placing hot glue onto the shoe (one feather at a time) then carefully using pointer object (or end of a marker/pencil) to press “stem” into glue.

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2. One at a time, apply black feathers to the outside of each shoe with hot glue then press on gems with sticky backing.

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3. Cut pink ribbon and form into shape of breast cancer pink ribbon. Use a hot glue gun to secure ribbon onto toe of shoe. Then add a dot of hot glue and jewel on top of where the ribbon crosses to secure the ribbon in place – with bling!

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4. Using a craft brush, paint platform at the toe of the shoe with Mod Podge. Hold back feathers and sprinkle on light pink glitter.

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5. Using a craft brush, paint heel of the shoe with Mod Podge. Hold back feathers and sprinkle on hot pink glitter.

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6. Let the shoes and glue sit at least overnight to seal and harden.

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7. Wear to your next fabulous event – like Women, Wine and Shoes on Thursday, September 24th!

Join us for Wine, Women & Shoes! Be there. Be fabulous with your NEW DIY shoes! Featuring wine tasting, Shoe & accessory shopping galore, dazzling fashion show, exciting silent & live auction, dream closet raffle, charming shoe guys and more!

Date: Thursday, September 24, 2015
Time: 5:30 to 9pm
Location: The Woodlands Waterway Marriott
Purchase tickets at: WineWomenandShoes.com/Houston
Limited Reserved seating, Complimentary VIP Wine Service During Fashion Show, Preferred Show Seating, Fabulous Swag Bag, VIP Badge Recognition and more!



Wine Women & Shoes Announces 2015 Date and Committee

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Photo by Tara Flannery Photography: The Wine Women & Shoes Houston 2015 Committee

Photo by Tara Flannery Photography: The Wine Women & Shoes Houston 2015 Committee

The Breast Cancer Charities of America is pleased to announce that Wine Women & Shoes will be returning to The Woodlands on September 24, 2015 at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott.

Presented this year by EXIT Lone Star Realty, Wine Women & Shoes Houston will be showcasing new fall fashions, designers and fabulous shopping experiences that every woman will want to see. “Last year was our inaugural Wine Women & Shoes event in The Woodlands and it was a huge success and VIP sell-out” said Erica Johnson, Founder & Executive Director of The Breast Cancer Charities of America in which the event benefits.  “This year, our committee has a plethora of new surprises and fantastic shopping experiences that any woman would love to win.”

From Shoe Guys, to the ‘Key to the Closet’, a New York Style Runway show, boutique shopping and wine tasting, Wine Women & Shoes will be the ladies night out this fall. In addition, new stations will include Kendra Scott’s ‘Sip & Sparkle’ and one of the ladies favorite, the ‘Best in Shoe’ competition that will be crowned that that evening.

Tickets for Wine Women & Shoes will open for public sale on Monday, June 1. Limited VIP tickets are available as well as General Admission tickets. Sponsorship opportunities also remain. To find out more information visit: www.WineWomenandShoes.com/Houston



Best Costume Contest at The Pink 5K

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Are you ready for The Pink 5K? The big day is almost here! We are getting excited and gearing up for the event this next Saturday, May 9, 2015 at Creekside Park in The Woodlands, Texas.

Remember to dress up! At the event, there will be a costume contest and the best dressed costume will be awarded to the best team and individual. Watch the video below for some great ideas on what you can wear on race day.

Time is running out – sign up today! Register at www.ThePink5k.com

Proceeds from event goes to help The Breast Cancer Charities of America’s mission to eliminate breast cancer as a life-threatening illness and to directly help women to prevent & survive breast cancer through their numerous program services.

Can’t attend the event? We need your help! Make a donation at donate.thebreastcancercharities.org/donateigopink



Let’s Paint! – High Heel Happy Hour

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Painting For A Cause!

We are excited to announce our next High Heel Happy Hour get together!

In the past, BMW let us see the newest cars, Saint Arnold provided beverages and

Chelsea Williams Photography captured some fun moments!

Now it’s time to wine down and enjoy the evening with us painting for a cause with

Pinot’s Palette in The Woodlands, TX on August 20 afrom 6:30-8:30pm.

>> Sign up to get your paint on now! <<

Stay tuned for our next High Heel Happy Hour!

Interested in hosting a High Heel Happy Hour? Send us an email!



Water Based Nail Polish, the Toxic Free Way to Go

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Water based polishes are preferred over other forms of nail polish. Water is the main ingredient and the nail polish does not give off any unpleasant vapors. What you want to look out for is the “toxic trio” in your nail polish ingredients. The “toxic trio” includes formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate.
When you get passed the ingredient list it is time to choose a color. Neutrals are the rave for summer of 2012. You can also go for the fashion trend of mint green.

She is sporting the gorgeous New Neutral of Transparent Pink:

Photo Credit: Imaxtree.com



The Nude Face

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The makeup trend going strong this year is the nude face. Of course, this does not mean absolutely without any makeup. What would be the fun in that?

Throw on some peachy lips and peachy cream blush with a touch of brown mascara on the lashes. Any skin tone can rock the nude face.
Remember, drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated which is beneficial to your complexion.

For women going through chemo:
* Get your doctors approval for all topical applications, including creams, makeup , sunscreens, etc.
* Adjust your facial skin-care routine if your general skin type has changed.
* Avoid hot water, opting for warm water instead.
* Wash with a gentle, non-drying soap.
* Never scrub affected areas.
* Do not shave affected areas until completely healed, and only with your doctor’s approval.
* Resist the temptation to scratch the itch! Cornstarch helps control itching.
* Avoid direct sun exposure.
* Apply a color-correcting moisturizer or concealer under foundation, if necessary. Green tints neutralize red skin, and lavender tints neutralize yellow skin.

http://www.essortment.com/hair-makeup-tips-beauty-tips-just-cancer-patients-38817.html



Shop iGoPink

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Make a donation to our cause for breast cancer and receive any one of our fashion forward, signature iGoPink items in return! Makes a perfect gift for family and friends as well. Check it out! http://www.shop.igopink.org/.

Also, pink the perfect springtime color!

Loving this pink skirt paired with that mint top! Mint green is the big color trend for 2012! The racks will be full of this soft whimsical version of mint green!