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Aug 23 2013

Rosh Hashanah Resolutions: My Cancer New Year

By at 12:03 pm

rebecca faulkner branum rosh hashanah resolutionWhen we asked our readers to send in their Rosh Hashanah Resolutions, we certainly weren’t expecting anything like the following, sent to us from Rebecca Faulkner Branum of Edmond, Oklahoma.

A New Year sometimes sneaks into a life, changing a family’s calendar forever. Five years ago I was unable to eat apples or honey because I was neutropenic from cancer chemotherapy. The bacteria from uncooked food could have sickened or even killed me, so the Rosh Hashanah that snuck into my life that fall might have been hard to recognize, but it was there all the same.

Cancer appeared as a terrible phone call in September, one week after my only child’s 1st birthday, a day that became Day #1 of a new life. The year that followed was one of loss. Of course the usual cancer losses–my breasts, my hair, and a lot of lost lunches–but I also lost my job as a health care provider (because I couldn’t work with ill patients). Then I lost my savings, my car, my house, and finally my husband, who walked away from the stress. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 19 2013

The Best Rap About Cancer You’ll Read All Day

By at 12:01 pm

aly viny cancer rapAly Viny is an actress and writer in New York City.  She has appeared on stages throughout New York City and across the country. She maintains a site of Jew girl raps at where she raps poetic about everything from her frustrations with her husband leaving empty Splenda packets around the house, to Costco trips, to Passover. She loves the crap out of her husband and in this particular rap, she gets more personal as she shares a bit of his incredible journey from being healed to becoming a healer. She sure is lucky she could be along for the ride.

It’s summer and you think I’m gonna rap ’bout somethin’ lotional

Today’s a little different, y’all, forgive me if I’m ‘motional

Let’s take a little breather, slow it down and maybe park it

Put away your kale from your co-op hipster market

Let’s gather like it’s Pesach, all my sisters and my brothers

While I tell you why this night is so much DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS

So let’s all listen up, just relax or take a pill

And I’ll tell y’all the story cuz this shit ’bout to get RIL Read the rest of this entry →

May 21 2013

Eight Things to Know About Breast & Ovarian Cancer

By at 11:44 am

angelina jolieLast week, Angelina Jolie disclosed that she had a preventive double mastectomy after learning that she carries a gene that sharply increases her risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. I absolutely applaud her decision to share her experience, as I am a strong believer in the power of telling our stories, both for others and for ourselves.

And then I tried to stop thinking about it, or anything else related to the C word or the inevitable D word. But I couldn’t. In the back of my mind, I wondered if I am at an increased risk for breast or ovarian cancer as I am both of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, and my paternal aunt died of breast cancer when she was just 45 years old. I finally decided I needed to learn more. I called my aunt, Dr. Elizabeth Naumburg. She’s a Professor of Family Medicine and an Associate Dean for Advising at the University of Rochester Medical School, and she sees patients just like me on a regular basis–women who might have questions about their own risk for breast cancer, and what they should do about it. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 24 2012

Rethinking Who Shall Live & Who Shall Die

By at 12:30 pm

breast cancer ribbonIn 2006, my 35-year-old stepbrother was diagnosed with advanced metastatic prostate cancer. Jeremy faced his disease with tremendous grace and humor.

He died less than two years later.

His death was devastating for me. Although we had different biological parents, we became brother and sister when we were both just 2 years old. Only three months separated us, and some of my fondest childhood memories involve our make believe games and mischief together. Read the rest of this entry →

May 9 2012

My Mother, In the Pictures

By at 3:01 pm

sarah tuttle-singer mother photographsIn honor of Mother’s Day, one of our writers reflects on the lasting memories of her mom.

My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November, 1999. For a while, chemotherapy was her powerful ally, and she won battle after battle against the invader cells. By May, 2002, she was proclaimed “cancer free,” and went traipsing off to Provence with my dad and his cousins for a 10-day adventure, where they enjoyed the flowering countryside, good food, and fine wine.

She returned happy and very, very tired. When the fatigue didn’t lift after a few weeks, she was back at her oncologist’s office, bravely facing the terrible news: The cancer was back. With a vengeance. So, she and her oncologist tried to hit back twice as hard, until she developed a life-threatening toxicity to the only drug that was kicking cancer’s ass. But, instead of giving up, she entered a hard-core clinical trial–one that left her skin blistered and peeling, her nights suffocated by excruciating dreams, and her unusually keen memory foggy and addled. Read the rest of this entry →


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