A Celebration of Cancer Survivors – Gratitude & re-cap of Event

A Celebration of Women™ is elated to announce that our post game speaker event yesterday was a grand success !!!

We send our appreciation to all those organizers, volunteers and especially our speakers. Having created and completed this Inaugural Event in less than 10 days, we are all to pat ourselves on the back, as the presence of our intimate audience dictated that some of our world do want to celebrate recovery, investigate solutions; and definitely eradicate the fear and stigma that comes along with facing loved ones that are attacked by the disease of CANCER.

This post game event opened with our gracious host, Mr. David Lontini of The Toronto Argonauts Football Club, with a sharing of his personal experience with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the transformation of his life, from living a day to day dull to a life of wanting to ‘pay-it-forward’; embracing every moment with a new found perspective.

Now in Re-mission, this man is on a Mission to create awareness of this disease and offers our world one more platform to do just this. Through his vision of an annual event where our world’s brave survivors can tell their tales, share their strength, he envisions a growing awakening for those that have this disease affect them or their loved ones in any way.

Taking Action to create awareness is a privilege to David, one that A Celebration of Women™ is honored and very excited to take on!

Our lovely Lynn Manwar – WOMAN of ACTION™ lead the charge of our speakers with her open heart, honest and touching story of her recent journey through the land of cancer.

Only 31 days from her last treatment, this powerhouse traveled from one end of our fair city to the downtown core, selflessly giving of her time to educate, inspire and motivate others to Take Action and notice of all women and men that are being touched by this disease. In her sharing, she showed that there are human beings from all over the world that will help you, if you only have the courage to ask for help.

Secondly, Lynn brought to the forefront an extremely important message, one that many of our medical practitioners DO NOT ADDRESS for the patients suffering from this potentially terminal disease. That topic was ‘fertility’. Yes, there are many women today that will face the tough decision of hysterectomy as either a life saving exercise or a preventative procedure. The question of saving their eggs is a discussion that needs to come to front lines of our medical society.

Cancer.org states: Preserving fertility in women before cancer treatment

Discuss fertility options carefully with your doctor before treatment. In some cases, you and your doctor may decide to try more than one option to preserve your fertility, especially if one of them has a low or unknown success rate. Be sure that you understand the risks and chances of success of any fertility option you are interested in, keeping in mind that no method works 100% of the time. Married women and others with long-term partners might want to include them in these discussions and decisions.

Embryo freezing

Embryo freezing, or embryo cryopreservation, is the most common and successful method of preserving fertility today. Mature eggs are removed from the woman’s ovaries and fertilized in the lab. This is called in vitro fertilization (IVF). The embryos are then frozen for future use after cancer treatment. This option works well for women who already have a partner, though single women can still have in vitro fertilization using donor sperm.

Eggs are collected during outpatient surgery, usually with a light anesthetic (drugs are given to make you sleepy while it is done). An ultrasound machine shows the ovaries and the fluid sacs (follicles) that contain ripe eggs. A needle is guided through the upper vagina, then into each follicle to collect the eggs. The eggs are fertilized, then frozen and stored.

Since each egg can most likely produce a single embryo at best, a woman will have a better chance of a successful pregnancy by storing several embryos. Hormones can be used to ripen several eggs at once. In most women, this means starting a cycle of hormone shots on day 3 of her menstrual cycle and continuing them for 2 to 3 weeks until many eggs are mature (often around 12 in a woman under age 35).

But some women who have fast-growing cancers cannot wait 2 to 3 weeks to begin treatment. And women with breast cancer may risk some growth of their tumors during IVF cycles because of the high levels of estrogen that result from the hormone shots. In cases like this, one option is “natural cycle IVF” in which ultrasounds are used to follow the progress of normal ovulation, and 1 or sometimes 2 eggs can be collected. Another option uses letrozole or tamoxifen during the hormone stimulation to keep the estrogen from encouraging cancer cells to grow. More studies are needed, but results so far do not show that this has any harmful effects on women’s breast cancer treatment or survival.

Successful pregnancy rates vary from center to center. Centers with the most experience usually have better success rates. Most states don’t make insurers cover IVF treatment, but a letter from your oncologist to your insurance company explaining the reason fertility preservation is needed can sometimes make a difference.

Brava Lynn for bringing this sensitive topic to our audience on this very special day.

You are definitely a WOMAN of ACTION™ !!!

Next, the wonderful mother of three, ARGO WIFE KELLY JOHNSON moved our audience with a touching and poignant story of her best friend Rachel, describing the strength and vibrant force maintained by this woman throughout her journey with this disease of cancer. Although she did succumb in the end, Kelly’s words allowed us the graceful memory of a woman that never gave, always attended to her children at home and school, right up until the end of her life.

Next speaker coming to mind, is our very own MAN of ACTION™ , John Horoszyko of YouDaMan.ca who proceeded to rattle our audience with the announcement that not only did he know this very same woman that had ‘just’ been described by Kelly Johnson, but that this woman was his first cousin. Watching the emotion in this man, opened the eyes and hearts of all the men in the seats, for sure.

Raising the hair on the arms of our audience, a deeper message was sent out the world. Yes, there are no accidents in this life. At that very moment, we are all sure that David Lontini of The Argonaut Football Club knew at his core that this event was destined to become annual, and was thoroughly being watched over from powers greater than anyone in that stadium during our inaugural speak. John was convinced that Rachel’s spirit was in the room with all of us.

Closing of the day, our Tiffany Bond – WOMAN of ACTION™, a woman that we refer lovingly to as ‘… a trail blazing babe in pink!’, opened the minds of every person sitting is that room when sharing of her experience with cancer. In her sharing, this brave woman not only told of her journey of how she survived throat cancer, how she was graced with a brand new appreciation for life that she is formally became one of our pioneer women in a whole new structure of preventative action.

In her touching sharing, this power of example stated that the experience of treatment in her bout with this horrific disease was so challenging that she decided to test for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. With a positive result to these tests, she embarked on her journey of preventative action. Explaining in detail the dangers for anyone carrying the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, she described the ‘why’ she proceeded to have both full hysterectomy and mastectomy with reconstruction, prior to being diagnosed with either of these types of cancer, simply as a preventative measure.

Cancer.org states: BRCA1 and BRCA2: Cancer Risk and Genetic Testing: Key Points

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that belong to a class of genes known as tumor suppressors. Mutation of these genes has been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

A woman’s risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased if she inherits a deleterious (harmful) BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Men with these mutations also have an increased risk of breast cancer. Both men and women who have harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations may be at increased risk of other cancers.
Genetic tests are available to check for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. A blood sample is required for these tests, and genetic counseling is recommended before and after the tests.

If a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation is found, several options are available to help a person manage their cancer risk.

Hereditary cancers – these are cancers that are associated with a change in a single cancer susceptibility gene (like BRCA1 or BRCA2). These genes account for a very small percentage of all cancers. In fact, only 5-10% of breast and colon cancer cases are caused by changes in a single gene. Although everyone who carries a change in a cancer susceptibility gene does not get cancer, the risk is increased greatly, usually to 50% or higher. These types of genetic changes are passed on in an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern in families. This means that each child of an individual that carries a gene change in a hereditary cancer susceptibility gene has a 50% chance of inheriting the gene change.Federal and state laws help ensure the privacy of a person’s genetic information and provide protection against discrimination in health insurance and employment practices.

Many research studies are being conducted to find newer and better ways of detecting, treating, and preventing cancer in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. Additional studies are focused on improving genetic counseling methods and outcomes. Our knowledge in these areas is evolving rapidly.

As founder of A Celebration of Women™, (here with Tiffany – all cured) I would like to take this moment to thank everyone for coming out and supporting this new initiative of positive action.

Planning for our 2013 WOMAN of ACTION™ Speaker Series in partnership with The Toronto Argonauts for PINK DAY GAMES, will begin by the end of this year.

Get ready Toronto, as David is on a mission to raise awareness of this potentially terminal disease named ‘cancer’, and is determined to celebrate the positive actions that can and are being taken by so many of our closest, nearest and dearest. The time is NOW to remove the fear and stigma and begin open discussion of possibility and future prevention.

‘A Celebration of Cancer Survivors’ SPEAKER SERIES is here to stay !!!

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