Types of Breast Cancer

What are the Different Types of Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer affects millions of women around the world. While it is often thought of as a single type, there are actually many different types of breast cancer, each with its own unique set of symptoms and treatment options. With early detection and proper treatment, many women are able to fight it and go on to lead long and healthy lives.

It's important to get an accurate diagnosis from a qualified medical professional- sometimes even multiple, as second opinions in these cases are helpful. Once you know the type of breast cancer you have, your doctor will begin to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs.

Additionally, doctors may also consider the genetic makeup of cancer when making a diagnosis. This classification is important because it helps doctors predict how cancer will respond to specific treatments. By understanding the different types of breast cancer, doctors can develop personalized treatment plans that are more likely to be effective.

Types of Breast CancerInvasive Breast Cancer vs. Noninvasive Breast Cancer

When most people think of breast cancer, they think of a tumor that is contained within the breast. However, cancer can also spread beyond the breast and into the surrounding tissue. This is known as invasive breast cancer. Invasive breast cancer occurs when the original tumor breaks through the wall of the duct or lobule and begins to grow into the surrounding tissue. Early detection is key to successful treatment and it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of invasive breast cancer so that you can seek medical help if necessary.

While non-invasive breast cancer is not as serious as invasive breast cancer, it is still important to seek treatment because it can progress to a more serious form of the disease. There are several types of non-invasive breast cancer, including Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) and Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS). Treatment for non-invasive breast cancer typically involves surgery to remove the abnormal cells. In some cases, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may also be recommended.

Ductal Carcinoma in Situ

Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) is a condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of the breast milk duct. The atypical cells have not spread outside of the ducts into the surrounding breast tissue. DCIS is a highly treatable and very early cancer, but if it’s left untreated or undetected, it may spread into the surrounding breast tissue. DCIS is usually found on a mammogram and appears as small calcium deposits in the ducts.

Although DCIS doesn't typically cause any signs or symptoms, it can sometimes lead to the development of a breast lump or bloody nipple discharge. DCIS is usually discovered during a routine mammogram when it appears as small clusters of calcifications that have irregular shapes and sizes. If you notice any changes in your breasts, it's important to see a doctor for further evaluation. While DCIS itself is not life-threatening, it can increase your risk of developing invasive breast cancer if left untreated. If you have DCIS, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your treatment options. Treatment for DCIS may include surgery, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy. In some cases, no treatment is necessary if the DCIS is found early and isn’t causing any symptoms.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma 

If you have been diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC), it means that cancer started in the milk ducts of your breast. The good news is that IDC is the most common type of breast cancer, so you are not alone. In fact, about 80% of all breast cancers are IDC. Treatment for IDC typically involves surgery to remove the cancerous tissue, followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. With early detection and proper treatment, the prognosis for IDC is generally very good. So if you have been diagnosed with IDC, be sure to talk to your doctor about your treatment options and make a plan that is right for you. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma typically affects people over the age of 55. However, transwomen are more likely to develop breast cancer than cisgender men, while transmen are less likely to develop breast cancer than cisgender women. 

Your healthcare professional will usually check for lumps in the breast tissue. Lumps can be benign or malignant, so it's important to have them assessed by a qualified medical practitioner. Your healthcare professional might also check for swollen lymph nodes beneath your arms, as these can sometimes be an indication of breast cancer. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action. It's important to have regular screenings for breast cancer, especially if you're at high risk. Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) is often detected during routine mammograms, and if your doctor suspects you may have IDC, they may also conduct additional tests, like an MRI or ultrasound. A biopsy may also be necessary to remove a small sample of breast tissue for further analysis. Screenings are crucial because they can help catch IDC early when it's most treatable. Treatment for IDC typically includes surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. With early detection and treatment, this can be successfully managed.

Types of Breast CancerInvasive Lobular Carcinoma

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) is a type of breast cancer that starts in the lobules, which are the glands in the breast that produce milk. ILC is the second most common type of breast cancer, accounting for about 10% of all invasive breast cancers. ILC is often mistaken for other types of breast cancer because it can appear similarly on mammograms. However, ILC tends to grow more diffusely, and it is often not palpable on physical examination. In addition, ILC is more likely to be associated with certain genetic mutations, such as those in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Treatment for ILC generally follows the same principles as a treatment for IDC and includes surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. Early detection is key to the successful treatment of ILC, so it is important for women to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of this disease.

Unlike other types of breast cancer, which often cause a distinct lump to form, invasive lobular carcinoma typically grows larger and causes more diffused changes in the breast. In some cases, an area of thickening or fullness may be noticeable in the breast. The skin over the breast may also change texture or appearance, it will be dimpled or thickened and the nipple may become inverted. As with other types of breast cancer, it is important to consult a doctor if you notice any changes in your breasts. 

Lobular Carcinoma in Situ and Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia

Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS) is non-invasive breast cancer that begins in the milk-producing lobules of the breast. Although its name suggests otherwise, LCIS is not true breast cancer and does not spread beyond the lobules where it starts. In fact, LCIS is not even considered a precancerous condition, as it does not increase a woman's risk of developing invasive breast cancer. However, LCIS may be found in conjunction with other breast abnormalities, such as atypical hyperplasia, which can increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. For this reason, women with LCIS should be sure to undergo regular Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC) screenings. The BCSC recommends that women with LCIS have a clinical breast exam every six months and a mammogram every year. If you have been diagnosed with LCIS, or think you may be at risk, talk to your doctor about the best course of action for you.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a type of breast cancer that often causes the breast to become red, swollen, and inflamed. This is a rare but aggressive form of the disease. Its symptoms are different from those of other types of breast cancer, and it tends to spread quickly. Cancer cells block lymphatic vessels in your breast, causing the skin to thicken or discolor breast skin with tiny dimples, puckers, or ridges that make it look like an orange peel. In addition to these physical changes, you may also experience fatigue, itching, pain, and a burning sensation in your breast.

Early detection is key, so it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of this type of cancer. If you notice any changes in your breasts, see a doctor right away. Prompt treatments are available that can improve the prognosis. Chemotherapy is often used to reduce the size of the tumor before surgery, and radiation therapy is often used after surgery to remove any remaining cancerous cells. While IBC is an aggressive form of cancer, with proper treatment many patients can recover and live long and healthy lives.

Types of Breast CanceerBreast Sarcoma

Breast Sarcoma is challenging to detect in its early stages because it does not usually cause a lump or change in the appearance of the breast and is generally found during a routine mammogram or self-breast exam. However, if the tumor begins to grow, it can cause pain and swelling. 

Breast Sarcomas are a type of cancer that can either be primary or secondary tumors. A primary tumor originates in the breast, while a secondary tumor has spread from another part of the body. Some inherited genetic disorders are known to increase one's risk of developing a primary breast sarcoma, but the cause is often unknown. Secondary tumors can develop after radiation therapy, chronic lymphedema, certain chemicals, some forms of chemotherapy, and immune system diseases. While breast sarcoma is rare, it is important to be aware of the symptoms, the most common sign is a lump or mass that can be felt under the skin. These lumps are usually painless, but they may cause discomfort if they press on nearby nerves or blood vessels. Sarcoma may also cause bone pain, either as a result of the tumor pressing on the bone or from cancer cells causing the bone to break down. Other signs and symptoms of sarcoma include abdominal pain and weight loss. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor.

Metaplastic Carcinoma

Metaplastic Carcinoma is a rare and aggressive type of breast cancer that is characterized by the presence of two or more types of cancer cells. Compared to other types of breast cancer, metaplastic breast cancer is faster growing and more likely to metastasize, or spread, to other parts of the body. This unique cancer is often difficult to diagnose and treat, as it can contain elements of both carcinoma and sarcoma. However, recent advances in genetic analysis have allowed doctors to better understand the biology of metaplastic carcinoma and develop targeted treatments. 

While metaplastic breast cancer is serious, patients should remember that they are not alone. There are many support groups and resources available to help patients through every step of their journey.

Estrogen Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer and Progesterone Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer

There are several types of breast cancer, and each type is characterized by the presence of specific receptors on the surface of the cancer cells. Estrogen and progesterone are two hormones that can fuel cancer growth. Cells from your breast cancer can be tested for receptors on these hormones. Breast cancer can contain receptors for one of these hormones, both, or neither. 

Estrogen receptor-positive means that the hormone can attach to the receptor and potentially stimulate the cancer cells to grow. However, not all breast cancers are fueled by hormones. If your breast cancer is hormone receptor-positive, you may be treated with hormone therapy, which is a type of treatment that works by lowering the number of hormones in the body or blocking the action of hormones on breast cancer cells. 

Another type of breast cancer, known as progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer, is sensitive to the hormone progesterone. This means that the cancer cells have receptors that allow them to use progesterone to grow. Endocrine therapy is a treatment that blocks the growth of cancer cells by preventing them from using hormones like progesterone. In the case of progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer, endocrine therapy can be an effective treatment option.

Types of Breast CancerHER2-Positive Breast Cancer

HER2-Positive Breast Cancer tends to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer, but it is also more responsive to treatment that targets the HER2 protein. There are no unusual symptoms or risk factors associated with this type of cancer, although some studies suggest that it is more common among younger women under 40 years. Ultimately, HER2-positive breast cancer is a serious condition that requires prompt treatment. However, with the right treatment plan, it is possible to achieve remission and enjoy a good quality of life.

Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Triple-Negative Breast Cancers are classified as such because they lack receptors for estrogen, progesterone, and HER2. It is more aggressive and harder to treat than other types of breast cancer because they don’t respond to drugs that target estrogen, progesterone, or HER2 receptors. Women with triple-negative breast cancer are mainly treated with chemotherapy or take part in clinical trials. Studies show that genetic mutations are more common in women with triple-negative breast cancer, even if they don’t have any family history of breast cancer. If you have triple-negative breast cancer, talk to your doctor about genetic counseling and testing for hereditary forms of breast cancer, such as those linked to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and other genetic mutations. Knowing if you have a genetic mutation helps your doctors determine the best course of treatment for you.

Breast Papilloma

Breast papillomas, also known as intraductal papillomas, are small, wartlike growths that can occur in the milk ducts of the breast. Although ductal papillomas are not cancerous, they can increase the risk of developing breast cancer if left untreated. It can cause a clear or bloody discharge from the nipple, or you may feel a small lump behind or next to the nipple. In some cases, multiple papillomas may be present, which has been linked to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. However, having a single papilloma does not appear to raise the risk of breast cancer. Treatment for breast papillomas typically involves removing the growths surgically. In some cases, radiation therapy may also be recommended.

Types of Breast Cancer

The chance of developing breast cancer increases with age and with certain lifestyle choices, such as drinking alcohol, being overweight or obese, not exercising, and taking hormone replacement therapy. Treatment for breast cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy. The type of treatment depends on the stage of cancer and the person's wishes. After you know your type of breast cancer, it’s important to ask your doctor what that means for your outlook and what treatments are available each with its prognosis and treatment plan. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get a second opinion if you need one. With the right information and support, you can fight breast cancer head-on. 

Women often feel isolated and confused when they are newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Connecting with other women who have been through this same experience can help you feel supported and less lonely in such difficult times.


I Found a Lump in My Breast...Now What?

You’re in front of your dresser and your hand runs through your chest. You feel something and just to be certain, you touch your breast again and this time, you’re sure that you felt a lump. Most women self-examine their breasts and once they find a lump, they freeze. Now the question is, what do you do when this happens?

First and foremost, don’t panic. Research shows that 85%  of breast lumps are benign, which means they are noncancerous, especially in women who haven’t yet hit 40. Women over 40 are normally encouraged to have regular mammograms and if those mammograms always turn negative, the odds are even higher that the lump you felt isn’t cancerous.

According to most obstetricians, before a palpable lump appears on a woman’s breast, something will already have been detected during a mammogram screening. Despite most women knowing this, the worrying and stress it has not stopped anyone from worrying once they feel a lump. The only way to be sure is to differentiate between a benign lump and a breast cancer lump.

Understanding your breasts

Your breasts consist of fat, blood vessels, nerves, glandular tissue, fibrous connective tissue, ducts, and milk-producing lobules. All these make your breasts quite lumpy. The major difference between a benign lump and a cancerous lump is that a benign one is fluid-filled and rolls between your fingers. A cancerous lump is normally hard and feels stuck in one place.

The other difference has to do with pain. Breast cancer, in most cases, doesn’t cause pain. Inflammatory breast cancer is an exception to this, as it comes with symptoms of aching or burning in the breast. Benign conditions might also be accompanied by painful symptoms, but at times, this isn’t the case.

The only sure way to know the nature of a breast lump is via medical tests such as a mammogram, fine needle aspiration, or ultrasound. These tests should be done at a medical facility that has all the equipment and with experts who can read the results.

Understanding the tests

What is a mammogram?

An X-ray examination of the breast is referred to as a mammogram. It is a process used to detect breast diseases or any breast problems, such as nipple discharge, lumps, or pain. This procedure enables the detection of benign tumors, cysts, and breast cancers before they can be detected via touch. All women are encouraged to frequently do a mammogram, whether or not they have breast health-related issues.

There are factors or conditions that may affect your mammogram results, such as

  • Having had a previous breast surgery
  • Hormonal breast changes
  • Deodorant, lotions, creams, or talcum powder applied on breasts or under the arms
  • Breast implants; these prevent the complete visualization of the breast area, hence hiding tissue

You should inform your medical examiner if any of these apply to you so that they can make the required preparations.

How to prepare yourself for a mammogram

The first thing is scheduling a date for the mammogram. It is advisable to do this two weeks before your period starts because breasts do become tender a week before and during menstruation. Once again, if you have breast implants, please notify the facility when scheduling the exam.

Expectant mothers or those who think they might be pregnant should consult a medical doctor before scheduling a mammogram. Discuss all options with your doctor. If you are breastfeeding, you should mention this to the mammography technician.

Avoid using lotion, perfume, deodorant, or powder on the day of the examination. Note that you'll have to remove clothes from the waist up, so wear something that you can easily get out of. It is also advisable to leave all jewelry and valuables at home. The health care provider or technologist will request other specific preparation based on your medical condition.

What is a fine-needle aspiration or FNA?

There are situations where a mammogram can’t prove that a certain body area is cancerous even though there are high chances that it is. In such situations, the tissue will be extracted via a needle for biopsy. The tissue will then be scrutinized under a microscope to determine if it is cancer or not.

FNA is just one of the several breast biopsy procedures as the type of biopsy done depends on the size and location of the breast lump.

How to prepare yourself for a biopsy

The entire procedure should be explained to you by the technologist and you should ask all the questions you might have. A consent form will be provided, but you should go through it carefully before signing anything. Once again, seek clarification on points that you don’t understand.

If your breast is numbed using local anesthesia and you are awake, then you don’t have much preparation. If general anesthesia will be used to put you into a deep sleep, then you will have to fast before the surgery. Your surgeon will explain everything before the procedure.

Once again, apply nothing to your breast or underarms. Inform your healthcare provider if you suspect you could be pregnant or you are pregnant. You should also inform them of any allergies. Perhaps you could be allergic to latex or anesthesia. You should also let them know if you are on any medication or taking supplements. This is also the time to say if you have a history of bleeding disorders.

Since you will be drowsy and groggy after, ensure that someone is on standby to drive you home.

What is an ultrasound?

When sound waves are used to examine your breasts, we refer to the method as a breast ultrasound. It will help the medical examiner spot any issues and also see how well blood flows to your breast areas. Ultrasounds are normally used when there is a change that fails to show up in a mammogram.

A breast ultrasound is not normally used to detect breast cancer, the reason being that it may fail to detect some early signs. For example, one early cancer sign it might not detect is micro-calcifications, which are small calcium deposits. So in what cases are an ultrasound method used?

  • When the breast tissue is really dense and the mammogram cannot see through it
  • When pregnant. Ultrasound doesn’t make use of radiation like mammography.
  • You are below 25 years of age
  • When there is a need to look at the surrounding lymph nodes. This is essential when removing cyst fluid or guiding a needle during a biopsy.
  • The health provider may recommend other reasons

How to prepare yourself for an ultrasound

Your healthcare service provider should explain the entire procedure to you. Don’t be afraid to ask all the questions that you may have. There are situations where you might be given a consent form to sign before the test. It is important that you go through the form carefully and ask for clarification when something is not clear.

There is no need to stop eating or drinking before the test. Just relax and please, don’t take any medicine for it. Breathe easy. Once again, avoid putting lotion, deodorant, or any other substances on your breasts that day. You should also wear clothes you can easily take off and that allow the technologist to easily examine your chest area. Some gel will be applied to your skin during the test. Follow any other instructions as required during the test.

Information is power, so when you feel a lump on your breast, seek medical advice as ll breast lumps should be evaluated by a medical professional. Once the cause of the lump is established, treatment can begin. So, finding a lump on your breast is not always a cause for alarm, it is a cause for taking the right action.

If you’d like to help make a difference in the lives of women experiencing breast cancer, you volunteer with us a Pawsitively 4 Pink or make a small donation.


Tips on Staying positive during hard times

Staying PAWsitive During a Difficult Time

Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude

Tips on Staying positive during hard times

It’s often said that hard times don't last, but the question is, how can you overcome those hard times? How can you get to the place of celebrating your resilience? When the present moment isn’t ideal, staying positive during a difficult time isn’t easy. 

First and foremost, you need to understand that difficult times do occur in life. Once you accept that fact, then you can deal with any situation head-on. If you are having difficulties financially, socially, or in terms of health, here are a few ways to help you stay positive during this difficult time until you reach the finish line.

1. Guard your mind

You are what you think. Therefore, you should filter any negative thoughts before they take up residence in your mind. It's true that when something negative occurs in our lives, we are wired to get bombarded with negative thoughts, and unfortunately, this is very normal. But the issue isn’t those negative thoughts. The issue is how long you will let them drag you down. Choose to see the positive side of things. See yourself making it. Do not focus on the event, focus on the process of getting out of there. Having a positive mindset can make a world of a difference. 

2. Meditate

Different kinds of meditation can help you maintain a positive mindset. One method of meditation is to focus on what improves your attitude, feelings, and healing. You can even create your own personal mantra. Say something positive every morning when you wake up. Think of one thing that you can focus on and think through it with no stress or tension. You can think about your favorite memories and hold on to them. The same energy you use to focus on negative things is the same amount of energy you can use to focus on the positive. Being intentional about the energy you create around yourself is essential to staying positive. Focusing on the positive is energy conservation and can drastically improve your mental health.

3. Keep a gratitude journal

Gratitude is the antidote to a poor attitude. The best way to continually express your gratitude is by keeping a journal. Be mindful about being grateful and find something to be thankful for each day.  This way, you will give less power to negative emotions. Your mind will be programmed to think on the positive side of things. Your self-esteem will improve and instead of resenting your difficult situation, you will be thankful for something. Spending some time writing down your thoughts before you go to bed will also help you sleep better as your mind will be clear of any clutter.

4. Listen to some good music

Difficult times should not stop you from enjoying the best or your favorite things in life. Music is one of these things and all you need to do is tune in to your favorite radio station or open up that Spotify playlist. Music helps you express your feelings unashamedly. According to research, music can evoke a more positive mood. You can roar like a tiger with Katy Perry or become a survivor with Diana Ross. And if a sad song comes on air? Go through the motions, cry all the tears you want, and clear your system. After that, hold your head up high, stay positive, and keep going, because you got this.

5. Spend time with loved ones

You are the average sum of the people who you spend the most time with. So, invest your time appropriately. Think of those friends and family members who make you smile when you are feeling down. These people could be anywhere in the world, but they want to be around you. This is the support system you need since you can be your genuine self around them. Share with them, talk with them, rant, or even be silent with them. These are friends who inspire you to be courageous and spending time with such people improves your attitude and positive outlook on life. Your mind will absorb all this positivity and use it as an immune booster. Plus, such close friends are also good at ensuring you take care of yourself, even during the hardest times when you don’t feel like it.

6. Enjoy more of the sun

It’s a well-known fact that spending too much time in the sun is dangerous. However, there is also evidence that spending moderate time under the sun is good for your mood and body clock. Apply that SPF and enjoy some time soaking in the rays and getting some Vitamin D. This will not only help you sleep better and improve your circadian rhythm, but it will also cheer you up. It’s been proven that getting sun increases your serotonin which helps with anxiety and depression. Next time you have a few minutes, go for a walk, plan a picnic, or sit in the garden to help improve your mood and positive thinking. 

7. Take a walk with your PAWsitive friend

Why not get fit and have fun while doing it? Daily walks with your dog (or cat, if they want) are a great way to take your mind off things. Going on regular walks with your dog is a form of exercise that will not only benefit your physical health like your joints and muscles but will help you get your mind off things. Be present and take in the sights and sounds. Simply establish a routine to make it part of your daily life. At times you may not feel like going for a walk, but whether it’s with the help of your dog with those puppy eyes or a glance at your daily agenda, remind yourself that a little exercise and some pet therapy can do you some good.  

8. Do something nice for others

Do something for someone when they least expect it. Say a kind word or offer them some tea or baked treats. Putting a smile on someone’s face makes us feel alive and of course, makes us happier too. You get to feel that you are of value. Being kind to others creates a feeling of purpose and eliminates isolation. By doing this you will have a different perspective on life. Instead of focusing on your difficulty, you will focus on how to make the world a better place.

Always remember that you will always win with a positive attitude. This is what will change your will and let you blossom. Positive energy and thinking will help you overcome whatever difficulties come your way. Smile, laugh, cry but through it, all, remain strong because there is always sunshine after the rain.


The Power Behind Pawsitively 4 Pink

An Interview with Michelle Power, the leader of Pawsitively 4 Pink

 

Pawsitively 4 Pink is a non-profit organization that helps low-income and under-served women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Pawsitively 4 Pink aims to alleviate the financial obstacles that women face through their battle with cancer. In 2021, the organization helped ten women with grants ranging from $500 to $1,800 each month depending on the woman’s needs.

 

What makes this organization so special is that P4P continues to help women up to 6 months after their treatment. The organization was founded in 2018 by an impressive and passionate leader that pours her heart into everything she does while steering this organization and changing the world one day at a time. So, who is she? We sat down to chat with the Power behind Pawsitiviely 4 Pink, the incredible Michelle Power.

What inspired you to start P4P?

My mother and all of the enormously strong women around me who led a battle against terminal illnesses. The battle against illnesses like breast cancer is extremely tiring on every level. Having witnessed their struggle, including both their physical pain and their fear of not being able to fulfill financial responsibilities and obligations, inspired me to create a means of making life easier. This is when Pawsitively 4 Pink came to life. I started Pawsitively 4 Pink to give back to a community that I, myself, grew up in and to impact the lives of these amazing women who are already physically, mentally, and emotionally processing their diagnosis of breast cancer and should not have to worry about their basic needs.

What motivates you to keep on going? How do you push through hard times?

The answer is simple. This organization thrives on the idea of helping women with breast cancer, and they have become our biggest motivator. Personally speaking, these strong women never fail to motivate me. Being able to meet them at least once during their time of diagnosis and staying in touch with them throughout their treatment has enabled me to see our impact.  Hearing that the support we give them is life-altering warms my heart and provides me with the energy needed to do the job. 

Hard times are inevitable, and coming from a lower socio-economic class, I have personally learned how to push through hard times. The shame and embarrassment of not being able to afford even the basics push me so that no other woman has to experience those feelings. Especially, when they did nothing to cause their diagnosis. 

What are the mistakes you’ve learned during this journey?

I have learned so many lessons since starting down this journey known as Pawsitively 4 Pink. Two lessons stand out the most. One is that you have to believe in yourself and the other is to not take things personally. I have heard “no” countless times. Rejection can be hard to accept. Honestly, it took me four years to reach a point where the response wasn’t as important as the request. Everything is worth the ask! The reasons a business or individual says “no” are endless, and 99% of the time have nothing to do with the person who asks. So, now I just ask.

What are your habits for success?

For me, success has come from purpose, passion, and persistence. I am one of the most persistent women that you will meet. If I don't know something, I will research, research, research. When people say that I can't, it pushes me even harder to learn more and find a way to make Pawsitively 4 Pink the business that I want it to be. One habit that always proves to be most helpful but not always the easiest for me, is having faith that everything turns out the way it’s supposed to. 

What is the best piece of advice you can give?

Allow yourself to be vulnerable. That vulnerability is going to enhance any relationship and those relationships are going to help you flourish. They are going to bring you to places that you otherwise wouldn't go. 

What is a personality trait you believe that every leader should have?

This is definitely a question that I can’t answer generally, but personally speaking, authenticity and integrity are what makes me a good leader. I think it's really important to establish genuine and good relationships with people. Relationships are the meaning of life and are essential in business. Integrity is equally important. A person’s word is everything. There are times you might promise something and then not be able to deliver on that promise, that’s normal, the important thing is, to be honest about it. It's okay to say “listen I just can't do it” and let the other person know that you’ve tried your absolute best to achieve what you promised. This will only foster your relationships. 

What’s your proudest moment in P4P?

My proudest moment is abstract. The success that we have had in just a few short years is very satisfying but knowing that my mother is looking down on me with a smile on her face and saying "that's my girl" is the best thing that I could ever ask for.

Finally, we would like to thank Michelle for sharing her heart with us during this interview and for all the wonderful efforts that she keeps on putting in. The success of this organization lies in a wonderful leader and generous people like yourself. Thank you for reading this and for being interested in this incredible journey.

 

Pawsitivetly 4 Pink is making the lives of underserved women with breast cancer easier every day. The impact that this organization is having is incredible and it’s only possible through your donations. There are several ways for you to get involved with Pawsitively 4 Pink. Your support, in any possible way, is always much needed and appreciated. Be part of our amazing journey. 


How Pet Therapy Helps Cancer Patients

If you know someone who’s been diagnosed with cancer, you probably know how difficult the experience can be for both the patient and his or her loved ones. The feelings that accompany the patient throughout the cancer journey can be draining and harsh on mental health. Depression, helplessness, and stress are tough to experience, especially while undergoing cancer treatments. 

One of the most effective therapies that benefit the overall well-being of a person with cancer is animal-assisted therapy or pet therapy. This unique therapy uses the natural intimacy between humans and animals to provide relief for cancer patients, resulting in many positive effects such as an improved quality of life, increased socialization, a distraction from illness or pain, and improved mood. You’ve probably heard of therapy dogs or canine therapy, so how exactly does this type of therapy work? 

Pet Therapy Helps Decrease Stress and Improve Overall Mood

From initial diagnosis through treatment and even post-treatment, cancer patients often experience many negative feelings such as stress, anxiety, and depression. While not always an obvious choice, emotional support animals can often help reduce these negative feelings. Animal-assisted therapy provides companionship and comfort that helps to decrease stress and these other negative feelings. As a result, both the psychological and physical well-being of the patient improves. Cancer patients feel more confident and better equipped to cope with their illness, which can make the healing process easier.

Pet therapy for cancer patients doesn't stop at stress relief, it also helps improve overall mood. Therapy animals have been proven to boost serotonin levels which are associated with feelings of happiness and encourage positive thinking throughout the day. Providing your loved one with an opportunity to pet a therapy animal can help them feel happier during these trying times. All of these benefits aim to improve the overall well-being of people with cancer and decrease the discomfort associated with the treatment process.

Pet Therapy Helps Reduce Pain

It’s no question that the side effects of cancer treatment are often unbearable and even unmanageable at times. In addition to the treatment itself, cancer patients often suffer from chronic pain, and animal-assisted therapy has been proven to help reduce this pain.

Studies have shown that spending time with a pet can decrease the amount of pain felt by cancer patients as the simple act of petting an animal causes the body to release oxytocin, a chemical that causes feelings of calmness and relaxation. These feelings are often similar to those experienced during meditation.

Animal Companionship Helps Improve Sleep

The presence of a pet can influence the amount and quality of sleep cancer patients experience. A study conducted by Best et al. found that people with pets experience more hours of sound, restful sleep than those who did not have pets.

The presence of an animal during sleep increases the levels of serotonin in the body which facilitates sleep, especially that deep sleep we all crave. When sleeping next to a therapy dog or other service animal, patients have an increased sleep duration and sleep quality. The improved sleep quality can boost a cancer patient’s energy, enabling them to better combat fatigue throughout the day.

Pet Therapy Helps Improve Socialization

Having a companion animal around can also encourage socialization in patients who are affected by cancer. Spending time with therapy animals has been associated with feelings of happiness, which in turn benefits patients who are dealing with loneliness and depression due to their illness.

Studies have shown that having someone or something to lean on can help cancer patients feel better equipped to face life's challenges. Spending time with an animal has been proven to reduce feelings of hostility and sadness while increasing feelings of enjoyment that encourage positive thinking and a more confident outlook.

Animal-assisted therapy can also help cancer patients make new meaningful relationships with people and other animals because it allows them to interact and communicate.

Conclusion

Research shows great promise for the use of pet therapy to improve the lives of cancer patients. Cancer patients often feel isolated and lonely as a result of their diagnosis and treatments. Therapy animals can help break this feeling of isolation and provide emotional support as well as increased wellbeing and improved quality of life.

Between the treatments, medications, appointments, and the side effects, there’s so much involved with cancer treatment, and the costs of all of this should be the last concern. At Pawsitively for Pink, we aim to help alleviate the financial burden of patients with breast cancer; help us make a difference for underserved women with breast cancer.


Psychology of Smiling

Have you ever spent time thinking about one of the simplest emotional expressions? A smile is the universal sign of happiness, greeting, pleasure, recognition, and other positive emotions. An authentic smile is a natural human response to happiness or pleasure and is a great method of communication. It conveys a message of happiness, joy, and friendliness to others. This simple human behavior can have incredible benefits.

In this article, you'll be reading about the benefits of smiling on your mental and physical health, and both your social and work life.

Smiling Can Improve Your Mental Health

Smiling can help relieve many mild psychological problems. This small facial expression relaxes and relieves negative emotions such as tension, reduces stress, and improves general well-being. Recent studies have found that depressed people smile less often than their healthy counterparts as this simple action releases dopamine, serotonin, and other chemicals in the brain which help people feel happy. Hence, using those facial muscles to smile, has the power to relieve depression and stress - naturally.

Also, smiling helps increase self-esteem, affirm self-image, and improve personal relationships. One smile causes the brain to release endorphins, which is a natural drug that acts as an antidepressant. Furthermore, serotonin is released when smiling which is a neurotransmitter that helps to boost moods and improve the mental state. It can help decrease stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine which boost the morale of patients and enhance disease resistance.

Smiling Can Improve Your Physical Health

Smiling can help improve your physical health by positively affecting various body functions. It opens up the lungs by 7% and increases heart rate, oxygen flow, and blood pressure which is helpful in increasing physical activity levels. At Stanford University, researchers found that people who smiled often felt better than those who didn't smile as much. People who managed a smile on their face three times a day for a couple of minutes were found to be less tense and in a more relaxed mood.

A genuine smile automatically produces positive emotions, which in turn work to improve the functioning of multiple organs. In fact, smiling can help prevent heart attacks. An experiment conducted on 6,000 men showed that after 5 years 45% of participants who did not smile frequently had died, but only 19% of the participants who smiled frequently had died. Being happy is good for your health, smiling helps to boost the immune system and lower blood pressure

Smiling Improves Your Social and Work-Life

A warm smile can brighten up your face and make people like you instantly because smiling is a way of communicating friendliness and openness to others. A person who smiles is seen as warm, welcoming, and non-threatening by most other people. The majority of people tend to return a smile when they see one - which leads to more positive experiences for both parties involved as they feel happier. They do say that smiles are contagious!

Smiling has also been shown to improve productivity in the workplace. Studies show that smiling at staff members or colleagues helps increase their efficiency and satisfaction levels. Researchers have found that when managers smile more often in the workplace, their employees are more likely to be productive in their tasks because of this positive sentiment. You can also win deals or attract new customers if you're smiling as it shows that you're relaxed, confident, and connect with people easily.

Conclusion

A smile is the simplest way of communicating friendship, happiness, and pleasure to other people. Having a happy face has powerful psychological benefits that improve moods, relieve stress, and prevent heart attacks. A smile helps beat depression, improves your mental as well as physical health and makes meeting new people & networking easier. Smiling is a natural human response that automatically produces positive emotions which in turn work to improve the functioning of multiple organs.

If you want to bring a smile to others and yourself, let it be by helping breast cancer patients and survivors. You can do this by becoming involved with us here at Pawsitively 4 Pink by volunteering or even making a small donation.


How to Be There for a Loved One With Breast Cancer

Introduction

When someone you know is diagnosed, the first question is usually how to be there for a loved one with breast cancer. It can be hard to believe that this has happened since it’s not something that most people expect or plan to happen.

Breast cancer comes without warning, and it varies widely in how it impacts each individual diagnosed. However, if you think your reaction is sudden and shocking to hear that a loved one has been diagnosed, think about how they are feeling.

This article will encourage you to shift your perspective and motives to educate yourself on being there for a loved one with breast cancer. Although the diagnosis will affect you, it’s important to think about your loved one’s needs and how you can be your best for them.

The Power of Listening

One of the best things you can do for a loved one is to be there for them and approach every conversation with open ears. Just being there and listening can make all the difference. 

Many people feel isolated and scared after their diagnosis. They may feel confused and afraid to express what they are truly feeling and going through. By going into every conversation with open ears, you are fostering an environment that is safe for them to express themselves and put their trust in you.

Even if you don’t completely understand what they are trying to express or explain, it’s important to listen and validate their experiences. For example, if your loved one is saying that she doesn’t know how her spouse or children will handle this news, let her know you see where she is coming from and validate her experience. It is scary, and try to assure her she and her doctors will do everything they can to fight this thing. 

A general rule of thumb is to listen first,  talk second. This leads us to our next point…

Only Give Advice When Asked

Along with entering each conversation with open ears, try to have an open mind, heart, and perspective as well. Don’t be so quick to give advice unless asked. Though your intentions may be good, it’s important to understand that not everyone wants or needs advice.

Your loved one may be in the early stages of their diagnosis and not have any idea what to do next. In this case, they will likely want and need your help figuring out their options. However, if they are farther along in their cancer journey, they may not want or need any advice, just love, and support. 

The keywords here are “when asked.” It’s okay to share your perspective and experiences as they relate to the diagnosis, but wait for your loved one to ask for help—or at least express that they want it. This will help to avoid any tension or feelings of being overwhelmed on their part.

Of course, you want to support your loved one in any way you can. Do your research… but don’t overdo it. Instead, do something tangible like dropping off a meal or picking up their child for school. This is where you will really be needed.

Support Your Loved One’s Treatment Decisions

One of the most important things you can do as a supporter is to support your loved one’s treatment decisions. This includes everything from surgery to different therapies.

It can be difficult to make these decisions, and it’s perfectly understandable for you to have mixed feelings about them. However, it’s important that you do not voice unsolicited opinions unless you are asked for your opinion or advice.

You have to remember your loved one is going through the recovery process more than once. The treatment itself is one version of pain they have to go through, but they also have to go through it before the treatment itself, as well as after when they are waiting in remission.

Every time they have to weigh all their options, go over the timetable of the procedure or talk to their doctors, they are going through the process all over again.

So, try to support them throughout it all. Their lives have been turned upside down, and the last thing they need is judgment from the people they love. Understand that you would maybe not make the same decisions as your loved one, but that does not mean they have not chosen the best option for them.

Check-In Regularly, Not Just When Asked for

One of the most important responsibilities you have is to check in with your loved one. On a regular basis. This can be done via phone calls, text messages, cards, visits—anything that helps them know they are on your mind.

Doing this will let them know they are not alone during their recovery process. Many patients feel that their loved ones don’t check in beyond the initial diagnosis. This leaves them feeling alone and isolated. The hardest time for those with a cancer diagnosis is actually in the months following when the initial shock has worn off, and their loved ones get back to their daily lives. 

So, make sure you are checking in regularly to offer comfort and support. Moreover, your loved one may need this more often if their treatment is causing significant side effects or making them feel ill for an extended period of time.

Doing a service or an act of love at least once a week can provide quick reassurance that things are okay and they are not forgotten. So reach out to them. As much as you can.

Educate Yourself 

Lastly, but equally important, educate yourself on your loved one’s treatment. If you are like most people, cancer didn’t cross your mind much before your loved one was diagnosed.

So, take the time to learn about their type of cancer, the various treatments, what to expect during and after treatment, and so on. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to support your loved one emotionally and practically.

This includes being there for them when they have appointments, being able to answer any questions they may have, and just being a listening ear.

If you can be there and sit in on doctor’s visits and take notes for your loved one, this would be a fantastic way to offer support. Not only will you be helping them, but you will gain a better understanding for yourself as well.

Conclusion

There is no best way to support a loved one with cancer. However, there are many things you can do (or not do) that will help your loved one feel less alone and more supported throughout their journey.

When offering to be there for them, it’s important to remember they may need different types of support at various times. So, be sure to communicate with them and ask what they need from you specifically.

Most importantly, be there for them in whatever way possible and let them know you love them. Even if it gets difficult at times, just know your support goes a long way. If you or a loved one need another person in your support group, any aid in the breast cancer journey, or you would like to give something to help those with breast cancer, feel free to head over to Pawsitively 4 Pink. We have been able to help many women through their breast cancer journey through generous donations from our community. We are here for your loved one too.

 


Holistic Therapies That Can Provide Side Effect Relief for Breast Cancer Treatments

Most side effects of breast cancer treatments are known to be harsh, unpleasant, taxing, and scary. Because of this, some people have wondered if there are other options to treat cancer that would take less of a toll on their body, mind, and emotions.

Although there are many holistic therapies out there, they are not proven to be effective treatments against breast cancer by themselves. However, for some people, these holistic therapies have shown to be effective in providing relief for the side effects of conventional breast cancer treatment.

If you or a loved one are considering using any other remedies that your doctor has not spoken to you about, we recommend doing so first. In addition, it is important to note that although these holistic remedies have been shown to help some, holistic remedies can be harmful to some people in certain circumstances. 

Most doctors recommend you seek out standard medical treatment first, these natural treatment options should be included in a well-thought-out plan. Complementary therapies are extremely important but work best when coupled with traditional treatment plans as well.  However, we never intend to provide medical advice, so please speak with your doctor about what is best for you! 

Not only are we here to help you in your consideration of holistic therapies, but we are also here to provide you with assistance in obtaining the proper care using holistic therapies – more on that in a bit. For now, let’s get into some of the holistic therapies that can improve some of the side effects of breast cancer treatment. 

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is centered around the use of fragrant oils. This remedy is great because you can alter the process according to your own likes and dislikes. You can also choose whether you want the therapy to be performed by a practitioner or to use it on your own.

If you want to go the practitioner route, you can get a massage. Those with breast cancer choose to inhale the scents through your nose and have the oils rubbed on your body throughout the massage. 

If you want to have more control over the aromatherapy, you can choose how you want to use it. You can add the oils to a bath or simply inhale the scents through your nose in your own space. In addition, you can add in another therapy, such as performing meditation while inhaling the oils.

Aromatherapy can help provide relief in many ways, such as relieving nausea, stress, and pain. It can also help you work through anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure.

This therapy is a safe practice, but it’s best to find which oils and scents work best for you. It is important to note that some oils can cause allergic reactions if applied to your skin, so it is best to perform a skin test with any new oils.

Because some breast cancers are estrogen sensitive, one should be extra cautious when applying lavender oil and tea tree oil to your body and avoid using large amounts. Before moving forward with this remedy, we strongly advise you to consult your doctor first. This is not a cancer treatment, but a remedy.

Music Therapy

You may think you need to be musically inclined to this therapy, but that is not the case. The goal of music therapy is to give yourself a space to relax and let your mind wander somewhere else other than the many stressors in life, especially breast cancer. 

Music therapy consists of playing instruments, listening to music, and songwriting. This is another remedy you can choose to perform with an instructor or by yourself, or even in a group. 

With an instructor, you will work with a certified music instructor, which medical centers usually have on staff. They will guide you through activities tailored to your goals and the needs of each session.

By yourself, you can just let yourself unwind and use music however it will best help you. Within a group setting, you might discuss what the lyrics in songs mean to you or create a song together.

This therapy can help increase one’s mood, reduce anxiety, relieve pain, control nausea and vomiting, and allow someone to express themselves differently from putting their feelings into words.

There are no real risks associated with music therapy. However, we recommend finding a certified music therapist who is experienced working with people with breast cancer.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy has been proven to give significant benefits to women with breast cancer. It can reduce anxiety, depression, nausea, vomiting, and breast cancer-related fatigue. according to a number of peer-reviewed studies, one of them being conducted at the University of Minnesota in 2003. 

In the study, patients showed increased levels of dopamine. This chemical in the brain helps produce a feeling of happiness. Additionally, there was even found to be an increase in white blood cells in the cancer patients who received massages versus those who didn’t. White blood cells are the body’s natural defense against threats.

There is even a massage therapy that only requires a light touch. This type of therapy is perfect for women who are looking for alternative medicine to reduce pain but are still sensitive to cancer pain. This natural treatment also allows for a sort of spiritual healing as well. 

If someone has just finished surgery after breast cancer, doctors will recommend only massaging the front of the body until after a full recovery. However, doctors still recommend this treatment to relieve pain. Deep massage should never be used on someone going through radiation or chemotherapy treatments. 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation 

Another example of a remedy for cancer pain is progressive muscle relaxation. This treatment involved the gradual releasing and tensing of focused areas of the body. Quality of life will dramatically improve and patients can expect to reduce cancer pain. 

There is no specialized licensing or certification to these alternative treatments. However, many health care professionals have had progressive muscle relaxation training. Its health benefits are tremendous, and it is recommended for both breast cancer survivors and to treat breast cancer. 

Tai Chi

Although tai chi is an exercise, it consists of slow and graceful movements with an emphasis on deep breaths and meditation.

This therapy is best done with an instructor but with today’s technology, you can easily find videos online from various instructors. You can find a group to perform this with in person, or you can perform it in the comfort of your own space with a pre-recorded video. In addition, there are also books that guide you.

There are no prerequisites to the shape or health you have to be in to perform tai chi, as all the movements can be tailored to your abilities.

Because of the slow movements, you’re given plenty of space and time to concentrate on meditating. This practice can help increase your strength, balance, flexibility, heart and lung functions, overall mood, and relieve stress.

Tai chi is relatively safe, as long as you listen to your body and mind. If something is painful or most of your body feels weak one day, it might be best to sit out and not perform tai chi until you feel capable.

As always, we recommend consulting your doctor before beginning tai chi. You should especially discuss this with your doctor if you have any joint problems, if you had recent surgery, or if you haven’t exercised in a while.

Journaling

Journaling is a great therapy practice because you have complete control, and it can also help you express your feelings during this tough time instead of keeping them in.

To journal, all you have to do is write down whatever you want. Usually, people write down accounts of their life, experiences, thoughts, and feelings. But there are so many other options, such as writing down positive affirmations each day, writing five positive interactions you have had recently, or writing about your future dreams.

Journaling is a great thing to do, either right when you wake up or before you go to bed. You are able to put your mind towards a specific focus to start or end your day, or both! Getting in tune with your feelings and journaling can provide you with a greater sense of emotional well-being and overall just feel better.

Journaling causes no harm and is worth a try. However, if journaling starts to feel like a chore to you, you might want to consider trying a different therapy. In addition, if you find yourself only journaling about negative thoughts, you may want to find something else that will be able to reduce your stress instead.

Conclusion

Every single person’s life and experiences are completely different. So there will never be the same right answer for everyone. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is an unimaginable thing for anyone, however, with treatment, it can be overcome. Whether someone with breast cancer chooses conventional treatment or alternative therapies, there are ways to overcome it. 

Finding a holistic therapy that works for you while you’re going through breast cancer treatment can provide the relief you never thought you could receive. A lot of medical centers provide opportunities for their patients to take part in remedies such as the ones listed above.

If you are interested in trying one of these therapies but don’t have the means or access to them, please feel free to reach out to us. We are dedicated to helping those battling breast cancer pay for treatments and remedies of all kinds. 

The only thing Pawsitively4Pink cares about is if it will provide some sort of relief to you. We hope you enjoyed learning about some holistic therapies that can give side effect relief for breast cancer. 

As stated before, always consult with your doctor before making any changes in your treatment. If you are looking for support to fund your holistic treatments or any kind of treatment, please reach out to us. We would love to see if we can help.