Tag Archives: Cancer

Bride with Stage 4 Cancer Lives to See Wedding Day After Doctors Urged Her to Move Up Ceremony

In September, doctors urged 29-year-old Laurin Bank to move up her wedding date, fearing that the cancer patient wouldn’t live to see March 24. She said “no.”

“This date was special to us,” Bank says of herself and her now-husband Michael. “We felt like moving that date was giving up and giving in to the cancer and letting it run our lives. We didn’t want to give in. That was our goal … and I was able to walk down the aisle to my husband. I was able to dance with him and I didn’t need a wheelchair or oxygen. I did it I made it.”

Bank, of Columbia, South Carolina, was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in September 2014. She underwent chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy before being declared cancer-free in April 2015.

“When I learned I was cancer free I felt ecstatic,” she tells PEOPLE. “I felt free and that I had gotten my life back. And I was more ready than ever to live my life.”

Michael (left) and Laurin Bank

However, her health took a turn in August 2017 when doctors told Bank her cancer had returned as stage four, and had metastatized to her bones, liver and lungs.

“It’s not news I wanted to hear,” she tells PEOPLE. “I looked at my oncologist and said, ‘quality over quantity. That’s my goal. And if there’s treatment, I want to do it.’ I was ready to fight. I fought once and I knew I could fight again. Being stage four is scary but I’m young, so I have a lot of fight in me.”

Bank began treatment as part of a clinical trial and her health began to improve. But, in September, doctors gave her a fierce warning.

“The oncologist said waiting six more months to get married would be risky. She said she wasn’t sure whether I’d need a wheelchair to get me down the aisle. She said it would be best for us to move up our wedding date. The doctor also said with my lungs not being so strong, I might need oxygen for my wedding day.”

Michael (left) and Laurin Bank

However, she says she and Michael picked March 24 because it’s the anniversary of their first date three years ago.

“Mike looked at me and said, ‘Don’t you dare worry. It’s going to be okay,’ ” says Bank, who chronicles her health journey on her personal blog, The Polka Dot Queen. “We didn’t want to give in to the cancer. We wanted to have [our wedding] on our terms.”

And they did. On March 24, a smiling Bank walked down the aisle, wed Michael and danced energetically in front of 230 of her closest family and friends.

Laurin (left) and Michael Bank

Laurin (left) and Michael Bank

“I danced until the last song of the night,” she says. “The wedding day was the best day ever. I was so shocked that I made it! I felt good and I felt strong. It was an emotional morning. As I walked down the aisle to him, I was just bursting with joy and happiness because I was so excited to marry him.”

Now, Bank says her health is improving and she’s continuing her treatment. She says she and Michael are looking forward to their trip to Italy in September, as they haven’t been able to fly overseas for their honeymoon as a result of Bank’s illness.

“Our goal is to go on our dream honeymoon like we originally planned,” she says. “Until then we’re planning a bunch of mini trips to celebrate and enjoy.”

Michael adds: “I made the decision that I want to be there for her and support her 100 percent. I’m going to support her through this fight.”

www.health.com/syndication/laurin-bank-cancer-wedding-move-ceremony “>
Breast Cancer – Health.com

I Was Diagnosed With Stage 3 Breast Cancer at 28

I was breastfeeding my son Caleb around Christmas 2016 when I felt a lump. I figured it was a clogged milk duct and that it wasn’t a big deal, so I thought I’d wait until things settled down after the holidays to get it checked out. I went for my annual physical in January. I mentioned to my doctor that I’d had this lump for a little while and asked her to check it out.

“This is too big to be a duct,” I remember her saying. “We need to look into it further.”

Still, I didn’t think much of it. I was only 28; I had always thought breast cancer was for older women. I had no reason to think I was at any risk. So I went home and told my husband, “The doctor must be overreacting, but tomorrow I’m going for a mammogram and an ultrasound.”

RELATED: cancer/things-to-know-first-mammogram”>9 Things to Know Before Your First Mammogram

I went to a local non-profit organization that does breast cancer screenings for the tests. The doctor there looked at the results of my mammogram and ultrasound and said I’d need to come back the next day for a biopsy. She told me that I needed to stop nursing Caleb right away.

Caleb is very medically complex. We had tried seemingly every formula in the U.S. and even some we’d had shipped from overseas, but he couldn’t stomach anything enough to thrive. Probably 75% of his diet was breast milk, so he was very reliant on me. Hearing that I had to wean him was when all the emotions hit: This could be something really serious. What would we do for him?

I had gone to my physical on a Tuesday. On Friday, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, meaning it had spread to my lymph nodes. That’s how quickly I went from thinking this was no big deal to getting thrown into a cancer diagnosis.

RELATED: What to Do After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis, According to Women Who Have Been There

Fighting for my life–and my family

As a family, we were about to start fighting for my life—but we had Caleb to think of too. I remember my doctor saying, “If you’re going to be here for him, you really do have to wean him now.” I did, with no real plan, just taking things day by day and using the formula that worked best for him. His doctors fought harder to find a diagnosis for him because they no longer had me to rely on. He did get a diagnosis and then medication; now he’s thriving, which helped me relax a little.

I was tested for genetic mutations and the results came back positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation. I knew my grandmother had breast cancer in her 60s, which I thought of as the typical age for the disease. I’m not very close to that side of my family, but I called her to tell her about my diagnosis, and I found out she had several cousins who also had breast cancer. If I would have known about my family history, maybe I would have been a little more proactive, but my diagnosis came out of the blue for me.

Within a couple weeks, I started chemo. After the tumor shrank from the chemo, I had surgery, followed by radiation. Now I’m doing immunotherapy until September. Chemo was terrible. I was stuck in my bed most of the time. My mom, dad, and sister live a block away, so they were at our house helping us every day. My husband has a great boss who had gone through cancer himself. He understood that when my husband needed to go home, he needed to go home. The support from our family and our community was huge.

Talking to my kids about cancer

Besides Caleb, we have another special-needs son, and just days after my surgery my daughter had an accident that took about six months of recovery. Honestly, I don’t even know how to describe the emotions. For a while, it felt like we were fighting every day to wake up in the morning and remind ourselves we could make it another day.

The whole time, my husband and I were open and honest with our kids—now 7, 5, and almost 3. One of my biggest fears when I was diagnosed was how to tell them. What if you say it the wrong way and scare them? My husband and I talked to our pediatrician and the social worker at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where I was getting treated.

With Caleb in the hospital a lot that year too, we didn’t want to say, “Mommy’s going to the hospital.” We didn’t want the kids to look at him and think he would have to do chemo or come back with no hair too. We didn’t want them to associate his hospital visits with cancer.

We said things like, “Mommy has cancer,” instead of, “Mommy is sick,” and “Mommy’s going to MD Anderson for chemo,” instead of, “Mommy’s going to the hospital.” We even said, “Mommy’s going to the oncologist”—we made sure we used the correct terms.

My kids knew I was sick, but they knew it was temporary. We gave them a goal: What do you want to do when Mommy’s done with treatment? Of course, they said Disney World. It’s a little expensive for us—now my husband and I look at each other like, “Uh oh, we promised, what are we going to do?” But we’ll make it work.

Getting my energy back

I had some scar tissue from the surgery to remove my lymph nodes, so I started physical therapy. I told the therapist how tired I felt, how I used to go on long walks with my kids and now I didn’t have the strength. Chemo wears you out so much. She made me an appointment to join the MD Anderson Healthy Heart program, which focuses on improving heart health and fitness in cancer patients and survivors. I thought it sounded great, like something that could really help me get my life back the way it had been before cancer.

I was given a Fitbit to track my weekly workouts. The doctor who runs the program helped me set goals that fit in with my schedule and also satisfied what she wanted from me. It was eye-opening at first to see how difficult it was to just find 30 minutes for myself three times a week. I was giving so much to the whole family and not taking care of myself. Sometimes I get my exercise on my own when my husband can watch the kids; other times, we’ll do something together as a family, like walk the trails at a local wildlife reserve. I’m going to get my energy and my life back.

RELATED: The Best Foods for Cancer Patients

My kids want every minute with me now that I’m feeling good. They were so used to going out all day together on Saturdays for bike rides or to parks before my diagnosis. But when I was sick, even just reading a book or watching a favorite show with popcorn in bed was a treat, and somehow they saw it as just as exciting. Even if you do something little, it means a lot to kids. Just the other day, my older son said, “Mom, remember that time you let us eat popcorn in your bed? Remember how fun that was?” I was fearful they lost out on so much during my treatment, but they didn’t.

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I want other women going through cancer treatment and recovery to enjoy those little moments. When something is almost taken away from you, you realize how important just rocking your kids to sleep or reading a book to them is. You might be scared to ask for help, but it’s okay to have somebody pick up your laundry or bring you dinner. It’s hard to get to that place, but it’s something you have to do. Remember to make special memories, even in pajamas and with no hair.

www.health.com/breast-cancer/ashley-rivera-breast-cancer “>
Breast Cancer – Health.com

Breast Cancer Stripped Me Down Physically and Emotionally—and Taught Me More Than I Ever Imagined About Love


The most unlikely and important love affair of my life began with me lying half-naked on an examination table.

“How long has this been here?” my doctor asked as she probed a sensitive area near the nipple on my left breast.

I told her I’d noticed the lump about four months earlier, during a massage. But that was a lie. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her I’d actually felt it over a year ago.

A wave of panic flooded me at the admission. I’d been keeping a number of symptoms secret (frequent sinus infections, recurring cases of pink eye, losing weight), refusing to acknowledge them even to myself. A master in magical thinking, I had convinced myself they were all nothing.

As I lay on the exam table, I had a momentary flashback: I had spent my early teens praying I would one day get boobs, and then much to my surprise, the summer I was 16 my breasts and I blossomed into a somewhat shocking fullness. While my prayers had been answered, I didn’t know what to make of my new voluptuous breasts. So I spent the next few years trying to minimize their existence, uneducated in how to appreciate and accentuate them—until I went to college and met a group of girls who were equally well endowed.

We and our DD breasts became the best of friends. We received nicknames from our male peers, like “the rack”—which at the time we thought was funny, but in reality required us to navigate a precarious line between feeling objectified and appreciating the fullness of our bodies. We celebrated many life events in the years that followed college, getting together for milestones like weddings, the births of children, and big birthdays. There were eight of us … eight.

While my doctor ordered a mammogram, I kept hearing the statistic “1 in 8 women” in my head. I thought of my best friend Courtney. But that would make two of us. It didn't add up.

RELATED: I Was Diagnosed With Incurable Breast Cancer and Got Married 6 Days Later

Courtney had been diagnosed with breast cancer just a couple years prior. Before then, I hadn’t been the best at keeping in touch. Courtney lived in Washington, D.C. while I was in Austin. But when I heard about her diagnosis, I’d sent care packages in an attempt to rekindle our friendship and provide support. I visited Courtney while she was in the midst of chemotherapy. I’d expected her to be frail and weak, but instead she’d taken me to a hot yoga class.

“Gotta move the chemo toxins through,” she’d quipped. She was amazing and inspiring. We stayed up all night talking, laughing, and crying. It was just like in college, only instead of smoking pot before a Phish concert, we smoked in her living room to ease the side effects of the chemo.

She exhibited such grace, strength, and humor, without denying the hardship of her reality. I found myself almost jealous of her experience, which felt odd. I walked away from that trip and took a long hard look at my own life. All was good. I had a successful business, an amazing family, a new boyfriend. But I was a master at internalizing my stress and unhappiness. Inside I knew I was on the verge of burnout, and felt like I was disappointing everyone around me, including myself.

Almost two years after my visit to Courtney, on Valentine’s Day 2013, my breast cancer diagnosis was confirmed. After initial texts and calls with my family, I called Courtney. We sat in silence for a few moments, where no words were needed. She knows what only someone else who has heard the word "cancer" in direct relation to themselves knows. And I hate that she knows.

“How is this happening?” she finally said. It seemed impossible to find ourselves entangled in this reality, in which two of us from our group of eight had breast cancer.

Nine months prior to my diagnosis I had adopted a formal meditation practice in an effort to reduce stress and feel more connected in my life. It was working. Meditation soothed my nervous system. I was sleeping better, and felt better able to cope in high-demand situations. In the midst of learning the overwhelming details of my diagnosis, I experienced so many unexpected moments of peacefulness that I remember thinking to myself, Oh, this is why people meditate.

My meditation practice coupled with Courtney’s practical guidance helped me believe that I could get through the multiple surgeries and six months of chemotherapy it would take to heal my body and spirit.

RELATED: 22 Ways to Help a Friend With Breast Cancer

Courtney embodied a strength, practicality, and honesty that was assuring. She became my mentor in so many ways, like my big sister at Camp Cancer. Preparing for my bilateral mastectomy, it was Courtney who provided the most helpful advice: get safety pins for the drains; this pillow from Relax The Back; cozy flannels, like we used to wear in college. She knew I wouldn’t be able to lift my arms for six weeks.

Towards the end of chemo, when my present-moment awareness and positive attitude were waning, Courtney provided the perspective I needed. She knew in a way no one else could how it felt to lose one’s taste buds and eyelashes simultaneously. We let our hearts break open together as we shared our fears and died laughing at the ridiculous moments we found ourselves in. Oops, poor choice of words—cancer humor.

Once I finished treatment, I found myself in the unknown waters of survivorship. This is the time that's most challenging for many women, my oncologist warned. This period where we enter the world as survivors, and are expected to behave as if nothing has changed when everything has. Regardless of whether you're told you're in remission, free from evidence of disease, or need to be closely monitored, the realities of "scanxiety" and frequent follow-up appointments are a constant reminder that there are no certainties.

RELATED: 14 Things Women With Metastatic Breast Cancer Want You to Know

I experienced a lot of frustration when my recovery and reconstruction took longer than I had anticipated. I was careful not to over share my experience with Courtney, who was further along in her recovery and moving on with her life as mine was seemingly falling apart. But I could tell that being there for me helped her to reclaim some part of herself too. Bearing witness to others going through a shared experience reminds us of how far we’ve come, and the unimaginable strength we possess, as well as the importance of both receiving and giving support.

Neither Courtney nor I really connected with the word “survivor.” It was a technicality that neither one of us could rely upon with any certainty—only time would tell. We decided “thriver” was a better depiction of our realities.

Together we discovered new ways of coping. I shared feng shui tips I had used to make my once cancer-centric home into a space of health and vibrancy. Courtney shared new medical protocols and integrative practices. We compared blood work and new genetic tests we’d heard about.

When she told me about the USA show Playing House, about two best friends, one of whom gets cancer, we binge-watched it virtually together, and grew obsessed with trying to meet the actresses. It was as if they had hijacked some of our conversations and put them into their dramady. We felt grateful for the camaraderie, and for the release that laughter provided. Throughout all of it, our friendship continued to blossom.

Cancer cracked my heart wide open. It stripped me down physically and emotionally, helping me to discover my genuine spirit—innocent, tender, and vulnerable. There is a picture that someone captured of me laughing about something after one of my chemotherapy treatments. When I look at that image, I don’t recognize myself.

My bald head is surrounded by an aura of light—technically it was just good lighting, but there is something more potent in that image. I see a magical blend of joy, love, and open-heartedness pouring out of me. It feels like I was awake and seeing myself for the first time in my life. I look at that picture and know: that’s the moment I started to fall in love with myself. The kind of love that isn’t based on externals, but on a deep connection within. A love that is unconditional and inherent to us all. I like to think of Courtney as my Cupid, her arrow full of love, support, and the reminder of the importance of connection and friendship through the ups and downs of life.

In many ways, it is fitting that my cancerversary falls on Valentine’s Day, for it marks the ultimate love story. I’ve fallen head over heels with myself, and gained an even greater and loving bond with so many special people in my life. Especially with Courtney—my bosom buddy and breast friend forever.

Paige Davis is a mindfulness and meditation teacher. Her book Here We Grow: Mindfulness Through Cancer and Beyond will be published in May 2018 (She Writes Press). Follow Paige at hellopaigedavis.com and on Instagram @hellopaigedavis.

www.health.com/breast-cancer/breast-cancer-diagnosis-self-love-mindfulness “>
Breast Cancer – Health.com

Starbucks coffee must carry cancer warning in California, judge rules

Starbucks coffee must carry cancer warning in California, judge rulesStarbucks and other coffee vendors must carry cancer warnings in California, a Los Angeles judge has ruled.  The companies have less than a fortnight to challenge the decision and could face millions of pounds in fines if unsuccessful.  The decision relates to a chemical called acrylamide, a byproduct of roasting coffee beans that is present in high levels in brewed coffee. In California, companies are required by law to warn consumers if their products contain chemicals that could cause cancer.  A non-profit group claimed acrylamide was in that category and brought a lawsuit against some 90 coffee retailers including Starbucks.  Elihu Berle, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, ruled that the companies had failed to show there was no significant risk from a carcinogen produced in the roasting process.  Starbucks logo Credit: AP Photo/Lisa Poole The judge said: “Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health.” The lawsuit was filed in 2010 by the Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT).  It calls for fines as large as $ 2,500 per person for every exposure to the chemical since 2002 at the defendants’ shops in California.  Given the state has a population of nearly 40 million any fines, which would be decided in a later stage of the trial, could be huge.  Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s and other coffee retailers did not comment on the decision according to Reuters, which reported the news.  A statement from the National Coffee Association (NCA) read: “Cancer warning labels on coffee would be misleading. The US government’s own dietary guidelines state that coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle.” 

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Buzzkill? Coffee cancer warnings could go beyond California

Buzzkill? Coffee cancer warnings could go beyond CaliforniaLOS ANGELES (AP) — It's fair to say that a lot of people awoke Friday to a headline that might have jolted them more awake than a morning cup of joe: A California judge had ruled that coffee sold in the state should carry a cancer warning.

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Starbucks May Have To Display Cancer Warning On Coffee Sold In California

Starbucks May Have To Display Cancer Warning On Coffee Sold In CaliforniaStarbucks and other coffee roasting companies in California may be required to

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus ‘Feeling Happy and Ready to Rock’ After Breast Cancer Surgery

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus has undergone surgery as she continues to fight her battle with breast cancer.

On Wednesday, the 57-year-old Veep actress revealed the news of her operation on Twitter — telling fans that she was recovering well.

“Hoorah! Great doctors, great results, feeling happy and ready to rock after surgery,” Louis-Dreyfus wrote. “Hey cancer, ‘F— you!’ ”

Ever the comedian, Louis-Dreyfus included a glamorous photo of herself with the tweet, which she joking referred to as, “My first post op photo.”

Louis-Dreyfus was diagnosed with breast cancer in September, days after she won her sixth consecutive outstanding lead actress Emmy for her role as Selina Meyer on Veep (which set the record for most wins for a performance in the same role for the same series).

“1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one,” she tweeted at the time. “The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring friends, and fantastic insurance through my union. The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let’s fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality.”

The Seinfeld alum has remained positive on social media throughout her battle. In January, she completed her last round of chemotherapy — something the sons she shares with husband Brad Hall (Charlie, 20, and Henry, 25) celebrated on Instagram with a video of themselves lip-syncing the words to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

“My beauty boys @henryhallmusic @charlie_hall made this for me today, my last day of chemotherapy,” Louis-Dreyfus captioned the video. “Pretty swell, right? Ain’t they sweet?”

Later that month, Louis-Dreyfus was rewarded for her work in Veep with the trophy for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series at the 2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Though she watched the 2018 show from home, Louis-Dreyfus addressed her win in a tweet.

“I wish I could have been @SAGawards tonight but have to admit it’s pretty fun to watch in my pj’s,” she joked on Twitter. “So honored to win. So proud to be a union member. So happy for my @VeepHBO bozos for winning ensemble award. Miss being at the table with you all. How was the chicken?”

Before the show, Louis-Dreyfus’ Veep costar Tony Hale gave an update on her health status, saying she’s doing “fantastic” since completing chemotherapy.

“She’s really doing great,” he said on The PEOPLE, Entertainment Weekly & TNT Official SAG Awards Red Carpet Live Show, adding that they’ll likely resume filming on the final season of the HBO hit this summer.

Matt Walsh tole EW that Louis-Dreyfus has even started easing back into work. “We’ve seen [Julia], she’s done some table reads, she’s doing well, she’s finished her last chemo, she’s in recuperation,” he said. “Her prospectives have remained excellent throughout. She’s very well loved; she’s a tremendous person.”

www.health.com/syndication/julia-louis-dreyfus-breast-cancer-surgery “>
Breast Cancer – Health.com

ICE Set To Deport Undocumented Father Whose 5-Year-Old Son Is Battling Cancer

ICE Set To Deport Undocumented Father Whose 5-Year-Old Son Is Battling CancerImmigration and Customs Enforcement plans to deport an undocumented man from Mexico whose child is battling cancer.

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Women with breast cancer have increased heart disease risk, report finds

Women with breast cancer have increased heart disease risk, report findsThe American Heart Association said Thursday that treatment for breast cancer may also damage women’s hearts. It’s the first major report on a link between the two diseases.

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Girl From Viral Photo Dies of Aggressive Brain Cancer DIPG

Girl From Viral Photo Dies of Aggressive Brain Cancer DIPG“Our sweet Braylynn, our warrior princess, earned her sparkly pink angel wings this evening,” according to a Facebook post from Braylynn’s Battalion, a page started to keep family, friends and anyone else up to date with Braylynn Lawhon’s fight against diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG. DIPG cases make up 10 percent of central nervous system tumors in children. “Her nickname was Princess Bel and she could light up any room,” the Facebook post continued.

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