Look After You

When someone you care for is in pain, be it emotional or physical, as a family member or friend, our first instinct is often, “What can I do to make it better?” An overwhelming need to fix what is wrong sets in as you wrap your arms around the individual and make promises that you can’t keep about everything being okay. Gazing into their gentle eyes, that hide the hurt and fear so well, a bubble of fear wells within your throat and you wonder if in fact, it is possible to help them, to save them, or if they have to save themselves, and if so, how?

A steady hand brushes away a strand of hair, as she tells you not to worry, that everything will be fine, with a resolve that can be mustered by someone who can only be described as a survivor. And your heart breaks because you know that she deserves so much better than the hand that she has been dealt. You wrack your brain for a solution, you try everything you can think of to make her feel better, but nothing seems to be working and your heart wavers between being strong for her and feeling hopeless.

In the end, you realize that no matter the circumstances, her light was brighter than the darkness that threatened to overwhelm her. Every pain made her grow stronger and appreciate what it means to laugh, and to love without conditions and every chance to be happy was another opportunity to believe in something again, to see the good amongst the pain, and to have hope that things would get better.

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How The Sun Sees You

It might be relaxing to laze in the warm sun, spending the day getting a tan (or in my case, often a burn), but what are the effects the sun has on our skin? This video shows a glimpse of not-yet visible changes to our skin when individuals step under an ultra violent light.

Stay beautiful, stay safe, protect your skin.

Birth Control vs. Breast Cancer

The National Cancer Institute notes “A number of studies suggest that current use of oral contraceptives (birth control pills) appears to slightly increase the risk of breast cancer, especially among younger women. However, the risk level goes back to normal 10 years or more after discontinuing oral contraceptive use.” When my Mom was battling breast cancer that metastasized to her brain, bones, liver, and lungs, the first question every doctor asked was, “How long were you on the pill?” Attending many doctors appointments, my parents noticed a trend beginning to emerge, all pointing back to birth control. So what exactly constitutes a slight risk?

A recent study published August 1, 2014 by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center suggests that women taking oral contraceptives could face an increased breast cancer risk of 50% or higher. However, the study notes that this is specific to birth control that contains high doses of estrogen. In comparison, oral contraceptives with low estrogen did not increase the risk.

Dr. Elisabeth F. Beaber, the Fred Hutchinson staff scientist who led the study and a team from the University of Washington and the Group Health Research Institute “analyzed birth control prescription records from a large database of women enrolled in Group Health Cooperative, a Seattle-area health care system. They looked at 1,102 women aged 20 to 49 who developed breast cancer from 1990 to 2009 and compared their use of oral contraceptives with 21,952 women who remained cancer-free.

Compared with the control group, the women who had used birth control pills in the previous year had a 50 percent higher risk overall than women who had either never used the drugs or had used them in the past, Beaber said.

Birth control pills containing high-dose estrogen, 50 micrograms or more, boosted breast cancer risk nearly threefold and those that contained moderate-dose estrogen, 30 to 35 micrograms, increased the chances about 1.6 times, the researchers found.

In contrast, pills that delivered low-dose estrogen, 20 micrograms, didn’t increase the risk, the study showed.”

Dr. Owen Montgomery, a spokesman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, stated that in 2014, most women were likely receiving birth control with low to moderate estrogen levels. However, the article goes on to note another culprit of increased breast cancer risk are pills containing a type of progestin called ethynodiol diacetate and triphasic pills – those that deliver drugs in multiple doses or phases – that contained norethindrone.Instead, they noted, for instance, that drugs containing ethynodiol diacetate raised the risk of breast cancer by 2.6 times. One brand that contains that formulation is Zovia. 

Other brands to watch out for include some of the most popular birth control prescriptions in the United States. The top-prescribed birth control pill is Sprintec 28, with some 4.8 million scripts issued in 2013. The drug includes norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol, which suggest a 20% increase in cancer risk, according to this study. Additional findings included the fifth most-prescribed pill, Loestrin 24 Fe. Last year more than 3 million prescriptions were issued. Loestrin 24 Fe contains norethindrone acetate, which was found to increase breast cancer risk by a startling 60%.

For more information, read the full article here: http://www.fhcrc.org/en/news/center-news/2014/08/Some-new-birth-control-raise-breast-cancer-risk.html 

TBT: Just Stand Up

Throwback to the 2008 performance “Just Stand Up” for Stand Up 2 Cancer sung by Beyonce, Mary J Blige, Rhianna, Fergie, Mariah Carrey, Natasha Bedingfield, Miley Cyrus, Carrie Underwood, Leona Lewis, Keyshia Cole, Nicole Scherzinger, Ashanti, and Ciara.

PS Beyonce is adorable throughout this entire performance.

“I Loved It All”

Photographer, Angelo Merendino created this touching series of photographs to document his wife Jennifer’s battle with cancer. You can read their story here:
http://mywifesfightwithbreastcancer.com/our-story/#.U-onmChG4WY
The details of Jennifer’s amazing positivity and strength during her battle is sure to pull at a few heart strings, but most importantly encourages learning and inspiration.