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Goodbye for Now

Sunday, December 16, 2012

©Brenda Coffee. All rights reserved.

The day after Christmas it will be two years since James died, and I’m still surprised he’s gone. There are days when it feels as though maybe he’s clearing brush in the canyon, buying food for the deer, or he's just left a board meeting and will be home in a little while. I still think about the day he died, and what it must have been like for him. I wonder if he knew what was happening; if the dizziness he’d been experiencing gently transitioned him to the other side? I wonder if he hears me when I talk to him; when I tell him how much I love him and how blessed I was to have him in my life?

I miss everything about James: the way he was quick to laugh; how he could read the clouds and forecast the weather and his passion for the land. Not just the land where we lived, but the curve of a neighbor’s tree and how it would be healthier and look better if it were trimmed, and how he’d love to be the one to trim it. I remember every detail of the first drive we took; how he pointed out plants like flaming sumac and doveweed; how perfectly and effortlessly he skipped flat stones across a river and how he pulled me toward him, but stopped just shy of kissing me, and oh, how I wanted him to kiss me. I miss the countless times he stood behind me under the night sky, his left arm wrapped around me, his right hand free to point out the North Star and the constellations. I miss how every day, without fail, he would tell me how much he loved me; how much he valued and appreciated me.

God has put me in another state of grace, if you will, so that I’m not in as much pain as I was, but my heart will always ache for James. He’s my compass, my true north. I’m aware on many levels that he’s still with me, and I know I will see him, again. Since that first date, James has held the key to my heart, and he’s taken it with him. I still feel married and can’t imagine that will ever change, but I’m not ruling out the possibility there’s someone else out there... I can’t even finish that sentence, because I don’t know the words. What’s more, I may never be able to finish that sentence, and that’s ok. I do, however, have a yearning to try something new. The old Ramborella in me is alive and well, and she’s seeking something challenging.

Remember the talk show I told you about? Well, it’s morphed into something far bigger; something that will use everything I’ve learned from all of my experiences and all of my teachers, which includes each one of you, dear friends. And if I’m to be honest, which you know I’m painfully transparent, I can’t write about cancer anymore. While I will still be a breast cancer and womens’ health advocate, and keep up with each of you who’ve touched my heart, I’m now interested in all aspects of women and their lives.

I want to know what defines us and makes us grow; the difference between our needs and wants and how we see ourselves in the context of not just our towns and cities, but the world as a whole. I’m interested in women as role models, and how we’ve survived what life has put in our paths. I’m interested in whether we feel pressured to stay young, and if so, do we simply buy something trendy, or is our little voice whispering words like “facelift” and "laser peels?"

At this stage of my life, I know what to expect if I keep on working at what I’ve been doing, and while I could be content with living in the middle of nowhere with my dogs, I must admit, what I have in mind is tantalizing. I didn’t just lose James that day. I lost my entire family and everything I held dear. I lost my way of life. What I have in mind, I couldn’t do if James were here, but his love for me will go where ever I go.

So for now, dear friends, I say goodbye, but you’ll be hearing from me, again. I dearly hope to hear from you as well. You can always reach me at brenda@breastcancersisterhood.com. Above all, please know how much you’ve brought into my life. Words cannot express my gratitude for all the things I've learned from you and the love and support you've given me. I love you dearly.

Stay strong; believe in God; lift one another up; be open to miracles and possibilities and know in your heart that you can do anything!

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Booker and Verlene

Sunday, November 25, 2012


We've all heard that laughter is the best medicine, so for those of you who are struggling with cancer or are simply in need of a smile, I hope you enjoy Booker and Verlene.  :)

Booker’s toupee was an exaggerated version of the pompadour Frankie Avalon wore in the 60’s film, Beach Blanket Bingo. Several sizes too small, Booker’s odd-looking hairpiece sat perched on his head like a renegade dust bunny curled-up for an afternoon nap. Booker’s idea of a good time was to rattle-off names of Texas Hill Country vegetation: “Bluestem, switchgrass, sideoatgrama, purpletop and drop seed.” Just when you thought he was finished, he’d let out a long sigh and continue with “scurf peas, lespedeza, prairie clover and Englemann daisies.”

In his younger years, Booker had wanted to be a barber, but the only job he could get was barbering in a nearby asylum where manic depressives, old folks with broken hips and autistic children were warehoused in dormitories like rolls of cheap carpet.

When I first met Booker, he and his wife, Verlene, had just been appointed by the State of Texas as trustees for Golden’s Nursing Home.
Booker and Verlene bought run-down nursing homes and brought them up to compliance after they’d been shut down for failure to conform with state laws.

At first glance, there was nothing out of the ordinary about either of them; just two country folks dressed for their day in court. Verlene wore her distinctive water buffalo hair-do, parted down the middle and flipped up at the ends, and a pair of purple sequined earrings that shimmied back and forth like flashy Cocker Spaniel ears.<PREVIEWEND>

“When we first met, his eyes were so blue, it almost made your teeth hurt,” Verlene told me. She smiled and folded her hands on top of the straw handbag in her lap and nodded toward Booker as his right hand quivered in the air, swearing to tell the truth, “So help me, God.”

“He’s seen so much of the world,” she whispered in my ear. Her tiny body seemed to vibrate under her dress. “I sometimes wonder when the new wears off, what we’ll have to talk about.”

“How long have you been married?” I asked.

“Fifty years come July,” Verlene said.

Like Booker, Verlene had an appreciation for all living things: for the way an old weathered stump curled around itself, as if it were holding onto all the character it had acquired over time; the way old women can hold their head just so until they can see in their reflection, the woman of long ago. I imagined Verlene saw that woman every day.

Booker had taken his seat on the witness stand and had begun testifying about the poor conditions at Golden’s Nursing Home. I tried to focus on his words, but like Verlene, his body looked like it was pulsating under his clothes. His left shoulder jumped and twitched, then abruptly stopped as the buttons down the front of his shirt rippled one after the other. I glanced at Verlene in time to see her right breast dance and spring outward like a Jiffy Pop container on a hot burner, while long strands of hair magically emerged over the top of her pearl necklace. At the same time, a small brown foot had dropped out of the armhole of Booker’s shirt and was pedaling frantically in midair.

“Your Honor!” The prosecuting attorney shot out of his seat. “Once again, Mr. Booker has disregarded my instructions!“

As the prosecutor spoke, a tiny head peered over the zipper on the back of Verlene’s dress. I screamed, and the head disappeared. The judge glared at me and asked if everything was all right, but the prosecuting attorney ignored us both. “Your Honor, I called their lawyer and told him they couldn’t wear these things to court.”

“Wear what things?” the judge asked. “Will somebody tell me what’s going on?”

“Sugar gliders,” the prosecutor said. “The witness and his wife wear sugar gliders under their clothes.”

By now I had seen several heads, tails and clawed feet poking out from Booker and Verlene’s clothing. The animals scurried back and forth beneath their garments like little boys fighting under a blanket.

Booker stroked one of the lumps under his shirt. “Your Honor, the last time we testified in one of these nursing home cases, my wife left her sugar glider at home, and the cat ate it.”

Still not grasping what was happening in his courtroom, the judge arched one eyebrow and bent forward to scrutinize Booker. “What, pray tell, is a sugar glider?”

Booker reached in his shirt and pulled out a small brown creature, then handed it up for the judge to see. “Flying possums, your Honor. They live in Tasmania.”

“That may be, Mr. Booker, but they do not live in my courtroom!”

Court was recessed while Booker and Verlene worked at stuffing the sugar gliders into Verlene’s straw bag. “Good thing I didn’t bring my python to court,” Booker said. “He has an eating disorder.”

I hesitated to ask: “How do you know?”

“Well, he only eats one mouse a month, so I tie the front feet of one mouse to the back feet of the one in front of it until I get about four or five mice on the string. Pythons can’t chew, so it has to keep swallowing until they’re all gone.” Booker nodded and grinned. “That way, I know he’s gotten enough to eat.”

Heaven forbid we should have an anorexic snake.

I watched as Booker and Verlene wrangled the last sugar glider into the bag. On second thought, maybe it wasn't the last one... Perhaps I should take a closer look at Booker’s toupee.




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It is Well With My Soul

Monday, November 19, 2012

©Brenda Coffee. All rights reserved.

Yesterday I attended a memorial service for a friend who died; a loving, well-respected man who gave of himself to everyone he met. Everyday since his illness began, I’ve prayed for him and his family, and everyday, I’ve imagined what they were going through, knowing their time together was limited. On my way to his service, I imagined what his wife and his family were thinking and feeling because I was remembering how I felt the morning of James’s memorial service. <PREVIEWEND>

It had been four days since James’s death, since I’d last seen him, and I pictured where he was, both his physical body, as well as his soul. I knew the essence and soul of my precious James was in the presence of God, and I prayed that all was well with his soul. These last few days I’ve said the same prayer for my friend who died, but like James, he, too, was a good and faithful servant, so I give thanks that he’s in the presence of God.

The day of James’s memorial service, my emotions were eerily under control. Perhaps it was because I was numb, still in shock. As I stood in the receiving line, I felt like I was comforting those who waited patiently to pay their respects instead of the other way around. I was trying to make them feel better and tell them how much James loved and appreciated them. But yesterday, at my friend’s memorial service, I came undone. As I sat in the pew, I cried and sobbed and struggled to catch my breath and not draw attention to myself. I cried like I thought I would have at James’ memorial service, and a couple of times I felt light-headed and faint. It was sheer willpower, God’s power, that kept me upright.

Today I’m so very sad for my girlfriend who lost her husband. I’m sorry for everything I know she still has to face. Her husband had a long illness, but then I know what that’s like as well. While James died unexpectedly, my first husband died after a long illness. I sometimes think long goodbyes give us time to realize that living with a debilitating illness is not a life we want for our loved one, or ourselves as their caregivers. As difficult and unimaginable as it may be, most of us eventually arrive at a place where we’re ready to let them go. Whether our loved one verbalizes it or not, I think many of them come to the same conclusion. This realization doesn’t make it any easier when their final day comes; when we watch them take their last breath. It doesn’t make the heartbreak and the finality of never seeing them, in this life, any easier.

I’m grateful my friend has real family who cares about and loves her, and unlike James’s family, I’m certain hers will not break apart in the days to come. Then again, we never know how people will react after a loved one dies; what things they will tell themselves that allow them to redirect their heartbreak and anger. Perhaps, instead, we should consider the day when it's our turn to find ourselves in the presence of God. Like James and our friend who died, will you be able to look at Him and say, "It is well with my soul?"

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A Chemo Brain, Up Close and Personal

Sunday, October 28, 2012

©Brenda Coffee. All rights reserved.
(I originally posted this in March, 2010, but I feel the need for a little humor, so I'm running it again.)

I sometimes wonder if I’m plagued with one of those trendy alphabet disorders like “OCD” or “ADD” that are favorite topics of morning talk shows. Or maybe the wiring in my brain temporarily short-circuits, causing the bimbo wires to mingle and override the common sense wires. Personally, I think it’s chemo brain, a result of my eight rounds of chemotherapy for breast cancer. Regardless of the underlying cause, foods packaged in neat cardboard boxes, like Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, seem to trigger a response that makes me assign them human characteristics.<PREVIEWEND>

Most of us have personified an inanimate object by pointing out the “shapely legs” of a chair, or by calling an old pickup truck “a good old girl” or “a beauty,” but I have expanded the bounds of anthropomorphism one step further: I behave as though dried pasta has feelings. This typically happens when I open a box of macaroni and pour the contents into the pot. I imagine the stranded pieces of pasta glued to the bottom of the box are devastated at being left behind while their box mates go on to seek their destinies, tumbling and boiling together, soon to be a satisfying meal for hungry diners. I feel sorry for the macaroni left behind and find myself ripping open the box to free them, scraping away the remnants of glue and cardboard, then pushing them onto their boiling center stage.

When this happens, I know my husband wonders if I have lost my mind, but I prefer to believe my reasoning abilities are creatively expanding their horizons: The macaroni have been together since they were first extruded from Kraft’s giant pasta machines, then spread onto conveyor belts to dry. I see the blue and yellow Kraft boxes, newly crimped and formed, jockeying for position, one after the other, their labels facing the same direction, ready to be filled with newly made macaroni. One by one, cheese packets are added, boxes are sealed, then packed into larger boxes for shipping. By the time the macaroni reach my stove, I imagine how disappointed these pasta orphans must be, stuck to the bottom and denied their birthright of being “the cheesiest.”

Maybe I’ve watched too many dancing boxes of popcorn and singing colas while waiting for a movie to start, but I take comfort from the great architect, Louis Kahn, who said “a brick wants to be something more than a brick. It wants to be a great building.” Macaroni wants to be more than a dried glutinous mass. It wants to be a meal, amazing and creamy until the last bite.

My husband says bimbos and macaroni have a lot in common. He smiles knowingly as he pats the top of my head. “They both want to be more than they are, but their brains are stuck to the bottom of the box.”

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Undermining Our Self-Esteem

Sunday, October 21, 2012

©2012 L'Oreal USA, Inc.

I’ve never considered myself a feminist, but the older I get, the more outspoken and interested I become in women and their well-being, especially the demographic that includes me: Women over 45. I’ve spoken with thousands of women, and I know this age group is far from grieving for our youth, empty nests or stiffening joints. Women want honest and frank discussions, not with Botoxed celebrities, but with authentic women who’ve walked in their shoes. Real women like themselves. As someone who’s considered, but never had an injection of Botox or plastic surgery, other than breast reconstruction because of two mastectomies, I want to address the cosmetic companies that want our business.<PREVIEWEND>

Last month's MORE magazine had a misleading beauty cream ad, featuring actress, Diane Keaton. In the ad, Ms. Keaton appears to be the very best version of herself that we, or she, have ever seen. Not only does Ms. Keaton appear "ageless," no lines, sags or bags of any kind on her face, neck or hands, someone has removed the very things girlfriends of a certain age find appealing about her.

At every stage of our lives, we've seen ourselves, and the women we know, reflected in the characters Ms. Keaton portrays. During the sexual revolution of the 70’s, she was the single woman who, unfortunately, went too far when Looking for Mr. Goodbar, and she was a neurotic twenty something in Annie Hall. We cheered when her character in The First Wives Club went from an insecure divorcee to an empowered woman, and more recently, she was the professionally successful but personally unfulfilled playwright in Something’s Gotta Give. We love Diane Keaton because she’s always seemed like the "real deal." Like most of us, she needs glasses, has wrinkles and has kept the vast majority of the face she's earned, so why did the cosmetic company feel the need to turn her into an idealized version of herself?

If a cosmetic company’s products, in fact, can make us a “Keatonized” version of ourselves, then by all means; back your trucks up to my door and keep those creams and serums coming. If, however, you're attempting to con women via Photoshop, then I’m not interested in doing business with a company that thinks so little of me. By the way, in case companies don’t know this, Diane Keaton is beautiful the way she is.

The beauty and fashion industry has long undermined the self-esteem of women. Just as they've sent the message to young girls that they need to be thin to be beautiful, by digitally morphing 66-year-old Keaton into someone she’s not, the cosmetic company is sending the message that this is how women her age should look. Women over 45 are the best educated, most powerful generation in the history of the world, and it’s time companies respect that we want role models, magazines, skin care creams and clothing that are age-appropriate.

We are loyal, valued customers who've survived sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll; the glass ceiling; in vitro fertilization; divorce, death, cheating husbands and breast cancer. Like Chico's retail clothing brand and MORE magazine, cosmetic companies that have turned the clocks back on girlfriends of a certain age, no longer make us feel we are valued. By using ageism and false advertising to appeal to our vanity, companies are betting we’ll trust them with our skin care dollars.

“Celebrating 40 Years... Because ‘you're worth it.’"

Really? I think you have us confused with our wallets.

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Breast Cancer, We'll Hang in There Together

Sunday, October 14, 2012

© Brenda Coffee. All rights reserved.

I don't think there's anyone who doesn't know this is breast cancer awareness month. In many ways, I've tried to run from October’s pink madness. I've put off writing a blog because once again, I didn’t want to address the controversy and the cloud that hangs over our community. All of us who are breast health advocates and bloggers have written and spoken out about the lack of moral compass when it comes to "raising awareness.” For those of you who don’t know, awareness usually translates into raising money for the cure, and too many of us know too much about where pink money does and does not go. For that reason, I’ve ignored dozens of requests from people who want me to promote their pink widgets.<PREVIEWEND>

However, the one thing I can't ignore is the devastating toll breast cancer--all cancers--inflicts on those who are inexorably ensnared by rogue cells that cause destruction and sometimes death. Long after I lay down to go to sleep, I hear the words of my unprepared friend, Donna, who's new doctor, the first time she ever saw him, had the "end of life" conversation with her, or Lisa, a fellow breast cancer blogger who just learned her breast cancer has metastasized, and she wonders how to tell her children.

It's getting harder for me to write about cancer. Too many of my friends, many of whom I've met here on my website, are battling Stage IV cancer, fighting with everything they have to stay alive. I care deeply for all of them and in many cases, I love them. They are men and women I've come to know on so many levels; people I admire for their spirit and in some cases, for their sheer determination and will that keeps them alive. Others are not so lucky, but not because of their lack of will and determination.

Sometimes I think I know too much about cancer and the course it can take. I often wonder why oncologists don’t burn out more frequently than I hear about? I'd like to think diet and exercise, positive attitude and meditation will trump killer cells gone awry, but that's not always the case. Then there are others, like my friend Susan Pollack, who lived for 14 years with metastatic breast cancer. She ate red meat, never exercised and drank alcohol. Go figure!

Sometimes it's really difficult to stay positive about the future of "the cure" when everyday, people I know, love and admire are hanging on to positive thinking and determination. So, if from time to time, I write about something else, like the power of friendships on the healing process, or who knows... why the sky is blue, that's why. I know too much about this wicked, evil thing called cancer, and forgive me, but sometimes it's just too difficult to slap on a happy face and say, "we can beat this thing." But if those of you who are in the trenches can do it, I will continue to be here to honor your valiant fight. Daily, I ask God to bless each of you and your families.

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Does Someone Need Your Help to Heal?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

©Brenda Coffee. All rights reserved.

This is my little man, Sam. If you look closely, you'll see fur peeking out from between his toes, a sure sign he's a house puppy, which is fine with me. Being an indoor dog makes it easier for me to give him hugs, rub his soft silky ears and tell him how much he’s loved and adored. Sam is the only one of my four-legged family members who gets to do pretty much whatever he wants, and because he's nearly perfect, he has rarely heard the word "no."

Sam captured our hearts the second we saw him. James said Sam was the only dog he knew who’d read and memorized the “Puppy Handbook.” He oozes cute and knows all the ways to make you say, “Oh... Isn’t he adorable?”<PREVIEWEND>

When James first found him on our property, Sam was emaciated and had a severe case of heart worms. Even so, he smiled big; wagged his tail and pawed at the air as he danced around on his hind legs. The vet was amazed Sam had mustered that much energy and was hesitant to say if Sam would make it through the next few days, much less survive heart worm treatment. However, he was adamant that Sam wouldn’t have survived another two or three days without us. While there are those who might say, “he’s just a dog,” I haven’t met another living creature, man included, who’s consistently as loyal and nonjudgemental as a dog.

For the last four weeks, Goldie’s been restricted to the bathroom except for when I take her outside on a leash. The vet said she has spinal stenosis, a type of arthritis in dogs that causes the joints in the vertebrae to swell, which puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves and causes acute pain. With lots of luck and quiet time, she may heal. If not, I can’t allow her to suffer in pain. Recently I’ve let her outside alone, but since her mission seems to be singularly focused on chasing deer, I’ve resumed taking her out on a leash. The good news is, she’s no longer imprisoned in the bathroom, and she seems to be pain free.

During the weeks she’s lived in the bathroom, my little man, Sam, repeatedly pawed at the bathroom door. The first time I let him in to see her, he walked over to Goldie, leaned his head down until their noses touched and then placed his paw on top of hers. Goldie perked up and wagged her tail, and with that, Sam laid down in the shower and stayed there for the next few days.

We all value friendship and loyalty, but did you know that love and friendship is one of the most important components of healing? To have a friend, you must first be a friend, which means you must sometimes make the first move. Like Sam, sometimes all you have to do is just be there so your friend knows you care. It’s really a small gesture, but it means the world to the one in need. Last night my friend, Elaine, in North Carolina, called to check on me. She made me feel loved and valued. Thank you, sweet friend:)

Is there someone you should reach out to; a person who could benefit from knowing that someone cares and thinks about them? So what if it’s “their turn” to call you? Send them an email or a Facebook message. Better yet, pick up the phone and call them.

... and thank you, God, for sending us Sam. He needed a good family, and we needed a great dog.

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What Were You Wearing?

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Isn’t it funny, the things we remember after a crisis, like what we were wearing?
At the end of my junior year in high school, the girls’ PE teacher and sponsor of the Brahamadoras, a varsity dance group, called me into her office. While the rest of the school was gathering in the auditorium to learn who’d been selected as next year’s cheerleaders and Brahamadoras, my PE teacher was telling me she hadn’t selected me for a second year as a Brahamadora. She told me she didn’t like me because I didn’t suck up to her like the other girls did, and I should be grateful she’d given me this advance notice so I would be spared the embarrassment of sitting in the auditorium when my name wasn’t called.

I’ll never forget the look on her face: It was cruel and smug; a smirk befitting a little dictator. Never in a million years had I seen this coming. In fact, some of my friends were speculating I would be named head Brahmadora. Instead, there I stood, in my new blue dress, speechless, trying to process the fact that I’d just been socially banished.<PREVIEWEND>

That was the first and last time I wore that dress. I’d won it in a raffle at a local department store fashion show. It was very “mod,” something Twiggy would have worn on the cover of a magazine: a navy blue, sleeveless miniskirt, with a white Peter Pan collar.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” my PE teacher asked. She stood up and smiled, “I have an assembly to attend. I suggest you go home.”

I don’t remember what happened next, but my friend, Gayle, says I went to her homeroom and told her. The only thing I remember is literally running to Lee’s house, my other best friend, to the comforting arms of her mother.

Fast forward 20 years:
I’m standing in the doorway of an emergency room in Washington, DC, wearing a pale blue dress, as ambulance attendants are shouting, “If we move him, we’ll lose him.” I’d ridden in the front seat of the ambulance as the same attendants had worked frantically to save my first husband. I could see everything they were doing as they hooked him up to bags of IV fluids and gave him multiple injections. The floor of the ambulance was littered with tape, discarded syringes, little glass bottles and rubber tubing.

A nurse took my elbow and guided me away from the ambulance to a small, private waiting room and closed the door. Ten minutes later, a doctor came in and said, “I’m sorry, but we lost him.”

“Lost him... “ I remember thinking, what a strange term to describe the death of someone. We lose things like sunglasses and socks, but my husband wasn’t “lost.” He was down the hall in the first room on the left.

A nurse asked if I was bleeding. She pointed to the cushion I’d been sitting on. It was covered in bright red blood. She looked at the back of my dress, and it, too, had a bright red bloom that was spreading like a Rorschach test across the pale blue of my dress. “Do you need a tampon?” she asked.

In a blink, the conversation had switched from “we lost him,” to a dissertation on how shock can trigger a woman’s menstrual cycle. In that moment, I was as speechless as I was in my PE teacher’s office, only I had no nearby home to run to; no best girlfriends; no mother to comfort me, just a freshly packaged tampon and a white sheet to wrap around my waist. A white sheet like the one they’d wrapped my husband in.

It’s strange how we remember what we were wearing during the traumatic times in our lives. If only we could “lose” some of those memories along with the clothes.

Do you remember what you were wearing during a time you’d rather forget?

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How You Can Stand Up to Cancer!

Sunday, September 02, 2012


This coming Friday, September 7th at 8-9pm EST, Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) will hold it’s third, live, primetime television fundraiser to underwrite new ways to develop cancer breakthroughs. ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and several cable channels will donate one hour of simultaneous, commercial-free television that includes a phone bank that will allows callers to interact with the biggest A-list celebrities in entertainment.

Started in 2008 by a group of visionary women, including the late film producer, Laura Ziskin, who died of metastatic breast cancer; Sherry Lansing, former CEO of Paramount Pictures, and advertising executives Rusty Robertson and Sue Schwartz, SU2C hopes to accelerate collaborative and innovative research by bringing together the best and the brightest cancer scientists.<PREVIEWEND>

Instead of competing with one another for cancer research dollars, the SU2C “Dream Teams,” made up of scientists, clinicians, bioengineers, molecular biologists and other experts, are working together to move research from the lab to the patient in record time. Some of the areas the SU2C Dream Teams are working on are:

More effective, less toxic therapies for three major breast cancer subtypes
• Identifying predictive biomarkers & effective drug combinations to treat breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer
• Precision therapy for advanced prostate cancer
• Personalized target/therapy identification in patients with BRAFwt metastatic melanoma
• Cutting off the fuel supply to pancreatic cancer

One of the areas that interests me is spearheaded by the Epigenetics Dream Team. They are concentrating on self-renewing cancer cells, commonly known as cancer stem cells. These cells often escape, evade and become resistant to cancer treatment. Researchers believe that by developing therapies that can target and strike cancer stem cells, they may “silence” key genes that permit cancer to exist and flourish.

Another Dream Team is working on a Circulating Tumor Cell Chip (CTC-Chip). Cancers typically develop in an organ but spread, or metastasize, through the bloodstream. These circulating tumor cells that spread from the primary tumor are extraordinarily rare. By developing a CTC-Chip the size of a business card and containing 78,000 microscopic columns, each coated with a special material, researchers hope they can “catch” a circulating tumor cell, while allowing normal blood cells to flow through unimpeded. By using something like the CTC-Chip, the Dream Team hopes to be able to detect primary and metastatic cancers earlier and less invasively, as well as determine whether a tumor is responding to treatment.

Unlike the Susan G. Komen Foundation, 100% of SU2C publicly raised funds goes directly into research grants. Since Stand Up to Cancer was founded in 2008, they have granted over $109M to seven Dream Teams, along with 26 high-risk, high-reward Innovative Research Grants. SU2C’s administrative expenses and overhead is paid for by a portion of funds raised from major donations and third-party fundraising.

The Stand Up to Cancer Dream Teams believe they are at a pivotal moment when scientists have the knowledge and the technology to make the breakthroughs that are critical in the fight against cancer. From everything I know, other than the Love/Avon Army of Women, the continued funding of Stand Up to Cancer is one of the most important things you can do with your donation dollars. I hope you’ll consider taking out your checkbook and joining them this Friday, September 7, to Stand Up to Cancer!

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Day 3, Celebrating the Ordinary

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

©Brenda Coffee. All rights reserved.

Can you see that? It's rain, rolling in rivulets off my roof! Ordinary and yet, sometimes rare, rain! Granted, it didn't last more than five minutes, but I hurriedly removed the cushions from the chairs and then stood in the doorway and smiled. Rain! Our cracked dry earth is drinking it in like the life-giving elixir it is. 

What is it about the smell of fresh rain? Do you suppose that loamy, earthy smell is universal, or does Marie's rain in Ireland have a different smell than Philippa’s rain in Myanmar or mine in South Texas?

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