Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

October —and it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Years ago, who would have thought that awareness of breast cancer would have turned into such a large business? Yet there is a site for which it is possible to buy almost anything “breast cancer.” Pink ribbons, tee shirts and pink clothing of all kinds everywhere. Breast Cancer Awareness events on every public calendar.

As a breast cancer survivor going into my third year of survivorship, I am deeply grateful to a good friend who reminded me that I am pretty good at Internet searching, and that I could certainly research breast cancer treatment centers offering minimally invasive surgery. I am grateful to the friends and family who drove me to my chemo appointments, and who bought me fancy hats I might not ever have bought for myself.  I will be eternally grateful to my husband, who diligently and patiently called the on-call doctor in the middle of the night of the first month of chemo, when I was incredibly sick to my stomach and in terrible pain. And who put up with my food rebellions when I refused to eat so much as a teaspoon of yogurt a day. I am grateful to my surgeon, who educated me and gave me options. I am grateful to the breast cancer treatment team at the Sullivan Breast Center and to a marvelous group at the Holy Cross Radiation Treatment Center.

Here’s what I don’t understand. It’s the pink marketing aimed exclusively at women.
While there are far fewer men than women who get breast cancer, the survivorship rate for men is far less than it is for women. Research has shown that significant numbers of men taking post-treatment tamoxifen stop taking it because of its unpleasant side effects. Where are the options, support, education and specialists for men with breast cancer? Where are the day-long events and Races for the Cure with traffic-stopping crowds of men to raise awareness of breast cancer for men?

It’s time for a blue ribbon campaign.


Susan Ellsworth

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Pequod Systems Posts: the Breast Cancer Series 2

Susan Ellsworth

Thank you, Grant, Aref, Jon, Team Nimble, Sally, Andrew, Judy, Steve,Ruth, Steve, Dottie, Attila, Janice  and the rest of the village it has taken to get me up and going again. My radiology is done. Although I still have leftovers from my last chemo on January 10,  I am beginning to agree with my managing partner and our customers—this is almost over.   My fingers are now getting better re-acquainted with my keyboard.

Two final notes on the subject. First, a number of  “race for the cure” events are in progress. It’s time for more research into the discovery of causes of breast cancer and the prevention of it. Second, a far less-advertised but equally determined effort in that direction is being made by the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s Army of Women Program.  Made possible by the Avon Foundation for Women, the AOW had 366,632 volunteers as of 5/21/12.  This Army’s vision is “Breast cancer has been around for decades, but it does not have to be our future. We can be the generation that eliminates breast cancer by identifying what causes this disease and stopping it before it starts.” Volunteers periodically receive brief notices about iniatives focused on  various groups and breast cancer. I am one of those nearly 366, 700 volunteers in that Army, and I invite you to join. Visit and sign up.

I am playing catchup with corporate marketing responsibilities and homework.  It’s rather sad when Twitter sends you a notice about missing you. I have an embarrassingly tall stack of Nimble leads to call. I juggle (let’s face it!) home tasks with followup medical appointments and corporate responsibilities. Thankfully, various friends drop by now and then to help with home tasks.  Blessings on them. Now if our two cats would just learn to clean and change their catbox….

In the meantime, good things have happened. One of our favorite long-time customers, a company that makes affordable and decent housing available in Washington DC has recovered somewhat from the bad economy. We have remained in touch with key staff members during a seriously tough time for them, and they recently came back to us for workstations and service.

Another company we met many years ago and have provided service to off and on for many years has suddenly discovered the importance and value of registering software and keeping track of software licenses. I wrote about this matter so long  ago in the Business Monthly that it has rolled off the archive.  Yet, there are still companies such as this one that have not moved all their applications into the cloud and have not figured out corporately that registrations and licenses for local Microsoft applications are not something to be hung onto by a sometime tech support contractor or by an employee who has no idea why that documentation is important. Bottom line? It’s quite expensive and sometimes next to impossible to upgrade or move a system without this critical data.

On the good news side, Todd Martin from Nimble has written an insightful blog about “The Art of Selling Yourself Online: 5 Ways To Introduce Yourself Through Social Media.”  It’s definitely worth a read, so check it out.

We can do It!

This blog was going to be about teamwork. And it still is. But today’s blog is about something I have never written publicly about and decided to do so anyhow.
It’s about breast cancer. It’s about a growing army of people who, out of the goodness of their spirit, are part of a superb team doing things for me that I never would have imagined friends would do. And yes, I do have a small stage one breast cancer.

On September 8, I will have a small breast cancer removed. A sample of the cancer will be analyzed, using the Oncotype DX Breast Cancer Assay. The outcome of this assay will  be a recommendation for a course of action based on my genetic makeup—-not a course of action based on the statistics of thousands of people who are not necessarily like me.

And now for my team. First, there is a higher power to whom I give the worries and cares that may, for the time being, seem bigger than I can handle. Next there is my husband, who has been and will be with me on every step of this journey. There is the woman I met through Toastmasters who will meet me at my door at five in the morning to take me to the hospital. There is yet another friend who will accompany my husband to the hospital when I am done with the outpatient surgery and completely unable to drive. There is my cousin who sent me a pink pen with a personal note I will treasure forever. The team keeps growing, and I am truly blessed by every member’s contribution. With their help, we can beat this cancer. We can do it!

For all the women in your life, encourage self-checks and regular mammograms. Support cancer research. Speak out.