No Rhyme or Reason

By Kristen Knott

Written January 23, 2016

A surge of nausea crashes through my belly, seizing my organs, constricting my muscles, shortening my breath. I am stunned. Paralyzed. Unyielding, heart racing, my eyes struggle to make sense of the perfunctory words on my computer screen.

She is dead. Breast Cancer. Gone.

What happened? She was fine last I had heard.

The remnants of the email blur into small print –boilerplate logistical details, funeral, donations and the family she left behind. Two kids, a husband…an entire life left unlived.

I never met her. I didn’t know anything about her, other than she was a mother, and the wife of an acquaintance. He shared that she was healing and was doing well last time we spoke. When was that? May –a mere eight months ago. Could this happen to me? My mind flashes ahead eight months. March break with the kids, summer vacation, grade eight grad then bam it’s over, no thanksgiving, no Christmas. It’s too difficult to grasp. It’s overwhelming. My eyes fill with tears. I fight them stubbornly, an attempt to keep the floodgates of worry and fear sealed shut. I refuse to let doubt penetrate my body.

Did she do everything she was supposed to? Was [...] continue the story

Photo Greater Than 1000: Angelo Merendino at TEDxUSU

Originally Published on Nov 18, 2013 On September 1, 2007, I married the girl of my dreams. Five months later Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the next four years we faced constant change as Jennifer’s illness grew more serious. During this time, Jennifer allowed me to photograph our day-to-day life. Our hope was that these photographs would offer people a more realistic view of life with cancer. Since Jennifer passed in 2011 these photographs—our love story—have been vital to my accepting Jennifer’s death, embracing my own mortality, and finding peace within myself.

Angelo Merendino is a photographer whose photo-documentary, The Battle We Didn’t Choose — My Wife’s Fight With Breast Cancer, has received worldwide recognition. Intimate, honest, and moving, Angelo’s photographs offer viewers a look inside the day-to-day life of a young couple facing breast cancer together. More than a story about loss, this is a story about love and life.

Since his late wife Jennifer passed in 2011, Angelo has maintained a blog chronicling life before, during, and after his experience as a caregiver and now, as a 39-year-old widower. Much like his photographs, Angelo’s posts are open and raw. His hope is to encourage conversation about topics that are [...] continue the story

An Ode to Wonder Woman

By Kristen Knott

Written September 21, 2013 @ 3:30 am

As a child of the 70’s, I like many other girls religiously watched Wonder Women on television. She was beautiful, intelligent, and strong and seemed invincible. I realize now that I have always been drawn to strong women through out my life and my desire to be a Wonder Women.

This past spring I felt a lump in my right breast that simply felt different than others I had felt in the past. I had learned three years prior at 39 that I had fibroids in both breasts and the surgeon stressed the need for me to be diligent about doing self-breast examinations as with dense breasts it could be more challenging to detect a tumor.

Fast-forward through to May 2013, where I underwent two mammograms, an initial ultrasound, followed by an ultrasound guided biopsy of the lump, and then an appointment with the surgeon June 6, to receive the biopsy results. As I sat in the surgeon’s office looking out the window at the pouring rain, he called for my pathology; he hung the phone up and professionally informed me I had a cancerous tumor in my right breast, and that he could [...] continue the story

Molly’s P.INK Tattoo

Personal Ink (P.INK)

P.INK provides tattoo inspirations, ideas, and artist info to breast cancer survivors. To share or pin your own stories, design ideas, and favorite artists, email help@p-ink.org.

It’s difficult to overstate how difficult breast cancer can be for the sufferer, and surviving it can be especially challenging if surgery has left patients with scars, amputations or other changes to their body. Now, the P.INK campaign aims to use decorative tattooing to help women cover up marks, forge community bonds and increase self-esteem.

The platform operates as a Pinterest group, where users can post their own stories about dealing with breast cancer, show off tattoos they already have and share design ideas for others. The pinboard, which was set up by advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bugowsky and social cause marketing firm David Clarke Cause, already details the journey of Molly, who was left with scarred nipples after a mastectomy and had trouble finding resources relevant to her ideas for tattooing the area. P.INK aims to provide a resource for those like Molly, connecting them with tattoo artists with experience of breast inking and creative types with ideas for designs, as well as with others in a similar situation. Users can then [...] continue the story

Who Will Help Cancer Survivors Stay Healthy When Treatment is Over?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Jessie C. Gruman, PhD is president and founder of the non-profit organization Center for Advancing Health. Her experiences as a patient — having been diagnosed with five life threatening illnesses — informs her perspective as an author, advocate, and lead contributor to the Prepared Patient Forum blog. Her most recent book, AfterShock, helps patients navigate their way through the health care system following a serious or life-threatening diagnosis. You can follow her on Twitter at @JessieGruman. 

It is completely understandable if you associate the term “cancer survivor” with an image of glamorous, defiant Gloria Gaynor claiming that She. Will. Survive. Or maybe with a courageous Lance Armstrong in his quest to reclaim the Tour de France. Or perhaps it is linked for you with heroic rhetoric and pink-related racing, walking and shopping.

I never call myself a survivor because when I hear this term, I recall my experience following each of four cancer-related diagnoses. It has not been triumphant. It’s been terrifying and grueling. It hasn’t taken courage to get through the treatment. It’s taken doing the best I can. I am not still here because I am defiant. I am here because I am lucky, because I am [...] continue the story

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