Profiting Off Breast Cancer: Eli Lilly Closes The Loop

In 2008, Eli Lilly purchased Posilac, Monsanto’s controversial hormone that is used to boost milk production in cows. You know it better at rRBGH. This artificial hormone used to boost milk production in cows has been linked to breast cancer and other health issues. Eli Lilly acquired rBGH from Monsanto knowing that Monsanto’s own studies show milk from cows treated with rBGH/Posilac contains increased levels of IGF-1, a hormone linked to cancer.

If that's not disturbing enough, here's where it gets sick. Eli Lilly also sells cancer treatment drugs like Gemzar and breast cancer prevention drugs like Evista. Eli Lilly’s cancer drugs made $2,683,000,000 for the company in 2008.

Way to close that profit circle, Eli Lilly.

How's that for some National Breast Cancer Awareness? Oh, by the way, did you know that National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was started, in part, by the pharmaceutical division of what is now AstraZeneca? If we're going to make ourselves aware, we should be fully aware. Let's do something more than slapping pink ribbons on products, detracting from the real issues.

Some organizations that don't pinkwash:

The Breast Cancer Fund

Think Before You Pink


Boobs And Gallbladders: The New Spa Days

I started off my Tuesday being ushered into a waiting area much like that of a spa—as if I were getting ready for a massage. A plush robe was waiting on the bench for me. A locker with a key was waiting for my valuables. There was tea and water in the waiting area.

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It looked like a lovely robe, but I decide to skip it and just wear the gown that tied in the back and take my seat in the waiting area.

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I'd already had my annual mammo. I've been getting them since I was thirty-five due to family history. This was a follow-up. A call-back because of my scar tissue, or breast density, or whatever. I was still trying to remain calm.

Pro tip: when trying to remain calm, don't arrive thirty full minutes early for your appointment. You'll end up reading every InStyle magazine in the place, decide you need a serious makeover, and realize you have neither the money nor desire to pull it off.

Finally, I was called in for my tit squish. I had a fabulous tech. We had each other laughing with radiology horror stories. I told about voiding cystograms. She topped that with a voiding defecogram! Dude, can you imagine having to drop a deuce while someone takes an x-ray? I think not! It was bad enough having to pee mid-film. (I used to work in the field, but had the honor of posing for those earlier in my life. Bonus: no need to smile.)

Once she was done, I went back in the holding tank until I was called in to have an ultrasound thanks to my fabulously hot tits. Or it might have been related to my dense breasts and scar tissue. I wasn't really listening.

All I know is that I passed with flying colors, they gave me a lollipop, and I got to go home.

Until Thursday. Thursday I have to go to see another doctor because my gallbladder is an asshole. We're going to have a pow-wow about what an asshole my gallbladder is. That's the official diagnosis. Asshole gallbladder. Look it up on WebMD.

Then, for Valentine's Day, I'm having it removed. Well, the day after Valentine's Day. I guess the surgeons don't like to do that kind of thing on Valentine's Day, which is weird because I got my uterus removed for Xmas a couple years ago, but they wouldn't do it on Xmas; I had to do it a couple days beforehand. It's like these doctors make plans on these holidays. Odd. I wonder if they'll agree to put the gallstones in a heart-shaped box for me.

Anyhoo. I've been reading up on the post-op joys of having one's gallbladder removed and came upon an entire message board of people who swear you'll be doomed to a life of diarrhea and sharting yourself, which has me super excited. I refer to them as the Debbie Downer Gallbladder Removal Society and refuse to believe in them or their complaints because, really? Who would start a board to talk about how awesome they felt? They'd just be out feeling awesome.

That's what I plan on doing. Feeling awesome. Me and my bewbs and my gallbladderless self. Feeling groovy.

Just as soon as I find a ride to the hospital.

I kid. Sort of. At least the kids are spoken for.


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Wanna See Mah Bewbs?

Yeah, really. I’m serious. Well, I am. It’s for a good cause, though. And, sorry to disappoint, fellas, but there’s no nip. Maybe next time.

It’s that time of the year—BEWB FEST ‘10 is in full swing raising money for Susuan G. Komen to help fight breast cancer.

If you want to help fight this shittastic disease AND check out some of the lovely bewbs and mewbs of the blogosphere (yes, it’s an equal-opportunity contest), go vote for your favorites early and often over at Bewb Fest ‘10.

I’m #42.

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Mr. Lumpy and Johnny Depp: Six Degrees of Separation

Johnny Depp at the Pirates of the Caribbean: D...

Image via Wikipedia

A few people do actually arrive on my site looking for information. I know. Poor them. But, I aim to please. I also over-share. It’s what makes this a blog.

When we arrived home from our little outing to WonderCon this afternoon (a period of time in my life I will never get back), there was some mail that hadn’t been brought in yesterday because we’re a sloth-like people. One of the envelopes was from my good friends at Kaiser Permanente.

I tore open the plain white envelope to get my mitts on Mr. Lumpy’s pathology report. I already knew the news was good (no cancer), but I’m an information whore. So, I wanted the dirty bits of news. The big words. The numbers.

To keep my promise of over-sharing, I’m going to let you in on the scoop. Who knows, maybe some other woman who’s been losing sleep over her own Mr. Lumpy will stumble upon my site and find out it’s probably no big deal, but important to get that biopsy to be sure.

Without further adieu, I give you THE PATHOLOGY REPORT [cue ominous piano].

FINAL PATHOLOGICAL DIAGNOSIS [I have to type in all caps, because they did. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be official. Don’t you guys know anything? Sheesh.]


[This is followed by a “Gross Description,” which I find highly offensive. Who are they to call my body parts gross? Also, it’s in lowercase, which tells me it’s less official/important.]

Gross Description:

Right breast biopsy: Consists of a 14 gram [That sounds huge to me. Of course, my only knowledge of grams comes from viewing the movie “Blow,” starring Johnny Depp. So, what do I know?], nonoriented [I swear they make words up.] 30 x 35 x 15 mm oval biopsy. Cut-section reveals a uniform, white, rubbery [Say it with me, because you know you want to: EW!!!] firm cut surface devoid of grossly discernible masses and/or additional abnormalities. [Proof I’m not abnormal. You read it here, first.] An estimated 75% of the specimen submitted in gibberish gibberish gibberish…[They lost me, right there. WHERE’S THE OTHER 25%???]

What have we learned? I have no idea.

Most likely I will live, and eventually die. Will breast cancer be involved in any of that? Who the hell knows? For now, bullet dodged. Just need to keep my eye open for buses. I hear it’s quite common to be hit by one.

P.S. I spent an obscene amount of time selecting that Johnny Depp image. Very few non-copyrighted photos of that man, which tells me he knows his value.

P.P.S. This may be the closest my bewbs get to Johnny Depp. So, you can understand my desire to painstakingly select the photo. In the end, I’m still not happy with my selection, but it will do. If you want hotter photos of his royal Deppiness, give him a Google.

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CalifmomFinds: BOOB Early Detection Kit

In honor of my bewb and Mr. Lumpy’s departure today, I give you BOOBS Early Detection Kits from Etsy seller, shannongerard. It appears as though shannongerard also offers some dicks. But, we’re focusing on the bewbs. So, here’s what you get when you order a BOOB Early Detection Kit:

  • A plush crocheted breast (your choice of color) that have little lumps sewn inside,
  • A BOOBS booklet explaining the lumps and how to perform your own self-exam,
  • Packaged in a spiffy pastry bag (cuz who doesn’t find bewbs tasty?),
  • And a donation of $5 made to Cottage Dreams (a cancer recovery initiative).
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Bye, Bye Mr. Lumpy

Scalpel with bl;age attachedImage via Wikipedia

Today's the day that Mr. Lumpy gets the boot from mah bewb, or the scalpel, as the case may be. I'm not exactly sure what my typing skills will be like initially following the Big Cut. So, I'm popping in to say hello before I head to the surgical center.

I'm gladly accepting all prayers, happy dances, and pleasant thoughts. Since I'm doing this with a local rather than general anesthesia, I should be home in a non-loopy state quickly. However, I rather enjoy loopy states. So, I'm beginning to question my wisdom of selecting a local. Vicodin just isn't the same as those stellar IV painkillers.

Even more fun? I get to wear a sports bra afterwards. This means I will henceforth be known as Sporty Califmom.

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New Post and Stuff about Bewbs

Adequate ventilation has also been regarded as...

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Pop your butt over to CalifmomHomeschools for a new post about our unschooling life. I wrote it myself. Heck, I even took the pictures myself.

In other news, I’m getting my bewb’s sinister guest, Mr. Lumpy, removed on February 18th. Just days from now. Like six of them. I can count. It helps me with the homeschooling, dontcha know.

I’ve opted to have Mr. Lumpy removed under local rather than general anesthesia. They expect it will take about an hour for the procedure, which will be done in Kaiser’s Surgical Center, as opposed to the main hospital. This makes me happy, as the Surgical Center is much less hospitally. (Hospitally is too a word. Is so. Because I said so.)

I have to bring a snazzy sports bra to wear home. (Try finding one of those with hooks so you don’t have to pull that damn thing over your head after you’ve just had a chunk taken out of your bewb. Also a cheap one, because you don’t actually do any sports or other activities that would require a sports bra.) Then, it’s a few more weeks of No Heavy Lifting. 

At least this time, there won’t be any catheters involved.

The word on the street is that Mr. Lumpy is most likely a benign asshole, but I don’t care to host more than one asshole on this body. So, Mr. Lumpy is outta here.

My biggest fear I have, aside from the Big C, is that Mr. Lumpy’s absence will leave me even more lopsided than I already am. So, I’ve made Hubs promise I can even the girls out if I emerge looking like I’m a scoop short.

Aren’t you feeling blessed you stopped by today?


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The Bewb Whisperer

One of Kaiser's many other office buildings in...Image via Wikipedia

The original plan had been to have my hysterectomy and breast lump removal done at the same time. It made sense. One hospital stay, one time under anesthesia, and one recovery period.

The Gods of Medical Insurance and Hospital Scheduling had other plans.

We found out in December that our insurance would be changing to Kaiser Permanente on January 1. After I regained my ability to breathe (Kaiser has a bit of a rep in these parts, and it ain't good), I worked with my surgeons to get the procedures bumped from January to December.

I was only able to get one of those procedures rescheduled--the hysterectomy.

Fast-forward to January, and the suckage that is working for a small company when it comes to benefits. In order to get everyone the best deal, they have to get as many employees as possible signed up. That took a while. In the meantime, I was freaking out about my bewb (and having an existential crisis of hormonal proportions).

We FINALLY got our insurance ID cards this weekend. I tried to enroll online that day at the Kaiser website. FAIL. I waited until yesterday, tried again and IT WORKED. Not only did it work, I booked my appointment with the Women's Center for the following day, was seen, referred to radiology for a new mammogram to be done the same afternoon (mine were over 3 months old, the preferred limit at Kaiser), and scheduled to be seen at the Breast Center (I love that bewbs get their own center) tomorrow.

Not only that, but the Mammo tech actually found the lump (not locatable on my last mammo, even though it's been palpable the entire time) and rushed my films through to make it to tomorrow's appointment in time.

Kaiser, you've knocked this one out of the park. Color me SUPRISED! Blown Away! Floored!

So far, I'm sold.

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Walking the Walk for Breast Cancer: Tips & Tricks

It's that time of year again, when people across the land make the commitment to walk to raise money and awareness for the battle against breast cancer. Since I walked the 3-Day two years in a row, I am often asked for tips. Rather than email the tips where only a few can see them, I had this brilliant idea to post them on my blog. Sometimes, I have these glimpses of my formerly brilliant self.

These tips are based on the 3-Day Breast Cancer walk, but can easily be adapted to suit the 2-Day Avon Breast Cancer Walk. (When I walked, it was the 60-mile Avon 3-Day. It was THAT long ago.)

Keep in mind, YMMV on all of this. It's what worked for me.

  1. You will be on your feet for 8 hours or 5 hours depending on how quickly you walk. Slower is not always better. Fewer hours on your feet = fewer hours on your feet.
  2. Duct tape is the best thing to put over blisters. Pull some off a big roll and wrap it onto itself to carry it with you. Moleskin also works, but duct tape is easier to come by and cheap.
  3. Gatorade will make you bloated. Instead, keep hydrated w/water and keep electrolytes up w/frequent small snacks. We used Gu the second year, but only in small amounts. The key is to eat a little along with the water.
  4. A hydration backpack (like a CamelBak) is far more comfortable than a fanny pack. You won't want something wrapped around your middle for that long.
  5. Running sandals. Strap them to your backpack w/small bungee cords, and change into them for the last 5 miles or so each day. They are like heaven and will allow your feet to breathe.
  6. Extra socks and/or double socks. It's all about avoiding friction. Double layer socks work well for this.
  7. Shoes. Have 2 pairs of walking/running shoes. Alternate to the 2nd pair on day 2. Make sure you have walked in both pairs before the big walk.
  8. Train. The more you walk, the easier it will be. Walk outside, not on a treadmill. There's something very different about concrete and pavement. If the weather is crappy, walk in a mall or on an indoor track.
  9. While doing the actual walk, you will be on sidewalks a lot. Stay to the high side of driveways...avoid the dip. A day of walking down the dip will create some gnarly blisters.
  10. Keep moving. Taking long breaks at the snack stops will do you in. It makes the day longer, and it makes it harder to get moving again.
  11. Stay in a hotel. Don't camp. I'm assuming they still do the camping thing as part of the walk. There's no honor in camping. It's not the 3-day walk and camp. It's the walk. Your donors are giving you money to walk, not sleep on the ground. Many people stay in hotels. Split the room with friends. It's good bonding time, and sometimes you can score a hot tub. Taxis can be called from the stopping points or you can arrange a local friend to carpool your group to the hotels. We stayed somewhere close to the route each night. I cannot recommend this enough...even if you love camping.
  12. This next tip may be TMI, but I'm giving it anyway. Vaseline. We had a single-dip rule in our group. Dip, and apply it to your butt crack. Seriously. The chaffing. Oh, the chaffing. You do not want it. Apply liberally and you will be fine. Remember, it's a lot of walking, and a lot of stopping to pee, therefore a lot of wiping.
  13. Body Glide. Runners use it to prevent chaffing in other areas. It's good for feet, thighs, and the like.

HAVE FUN! It really is a blast. You will meet amazing people. When I was collecting donations, I had my donors give me the names of people they wanted me to carry with  me on the walk. I bought a gross of those bracelets like you get at concerts and wrote the names on them, attached them to my pack. So, it was like I was carrying this group of remembered loved ones with me. Very powerful.

If you're walking this year, leave a comment with a link to your donation page.

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As The Bewb Turns: Why's My Nipple Over There?

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness MonthImage by jellybean {Michelle} via FlickrLet me preface this by saying that I have had mammograms in the past. My grandmother, great grandmother, and great-great grandmother all had post-menopausal breast cancer. While that does not increase my risk using the spiffy Breast Cancer Risk Formula, it piques the radar of most doctors. So, I started doing the tit squish a little earlier than most, doing my first baseline at 35, rather than 40.

What I have not, however, had the pleasure of doing is a diagnostic mammo. Gosh, was that fun. Woowee! What a treat. And, because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I got not only a pretty pink ribbon pin, but a lovely manicure kit made by some sweet children in China. It's case is a kicky miniature black patent handbag. Wow, the cute.

Some of you may be wondering how a diagnostic mammo differs from a regular mammo. It all boils down to the additional views of your boob. For the purposes of this demonstration, I  need to define a few things:

  1. Your Boob: That thing pressed under glass that you can now see OVER THERE, across the room. Wave to it, ladies. Say, "Hi Bewb!"
  2. Additional Views: Where a standard mammo is usually one horizontal bewb pancake and one 45 degree bewb pancake, the diagnostic mammo comes with a circus trick rarely performed in the wild-- The VERTICAL BEWBCAKE! Yes, it's true. Your bewb is now qualified to be a bookend.

Would I do it all again? Why, yes I would. Why? Because I like my girls. I only do it because I love them. You know, like when you beat your kids in the name of love. It's like that, but it really does hurt me more than it hurts you.

P.S. I still don't know what's up with my boobs, but no one screamed in horror. So, I'm patiently waiting to see the surgeon/boob whisperer next week for my follow-up. I can't wait!

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Unable to Leave Well* Enough Alone

I've been dicking around with my blog format again. Hey, at least the furniture hasn't moved in a week or two. I had a few reasons for doing this and would love it if those who read via email or rss feeds would take a moment to pop over to califmom proper for a peek.

One important addition is a link to an upcoming event and fundraiser in memory of my friend Kelly Shea Gallo who lost her battle with breast cancer just before her 36th birthday. The 4-year anniversary of her loss is upon us next month. Her friends and family are establishing a foundation, Kelly's Causes, to support those causes for which Kelly had enormous passion.

*Oh, wise Editor Friends (here to for EFs), you know your it "well enough alone" or "good enough alone"? Post in the comments, please. I am losing sleep over this one and given my failure at locating a concise answer on the Internets, some poor soul might benefit from your net-accessible remarks. Now, back to our regular broadcast.

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