Denim Day: A fight against breast cancer

This is to document our surgical clinic's participation in the fight against breast cancer by supporting Lee National Denim Day on Friday, October 6. Give $5, wear denim and a pink bow lapel pin to work, and support the Entertainment Industry Foundation's Women's Cancer Programs.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Special Donation From A Special Patient

I want to write about the very last donation made today.
It was the typical full steam ahead day in clinic. But we always look forward to Fridays because that's when a special patient comes in who we'll call Viva. She's been through the wringer: biopsies, mastectomies and now chemotherapy. The loss of her hair, an overall weakening of her body, a future that no doubt feels precious and uncertain.

Viva is one of those unassuming gentle souls who probably thinks that no one notices her. But we do. She's lithe and graceful, her smile is big, her manner is gracious, and she always comes in with either her father or her husband. They drive a long way to get to our office, the result of an HMO plan that contracted with the local hospital, rather than finding one closer to her. It's unfortunate that many patients who are given HMO plans aren't given the information upfront about the location of contracted services. We're finding that our patients are driving from all over L.A. and Orange County to get to us.

Often, she doesn't feel well from her chemo treatments and surgeries. Something like that can make the long drive feel even longer. Yet when you ask how she's doing, she always says, "Fine." We never knew Viva before her life with cancer, but there's a peacefulness about her that's typical of patients who've figured out their priorities. For Viva, it's God, health, family and friends. It's her countenance that makes her so special.

Today was a special day. It was denim day. Her husband drove her in, and she wore a breast cancer baseball cap. In our office, she found herself surrounded by tribute cards, pink bows and a staff wearing denim and pink ribbon lapel pins just for people with breast cancer. But there was another thing that made today different --and it caught us off guard.

After she saw the doctor, she asked if she was supposed to return.
"No, you're done," he said. It was her last visit with us, the rest of her treatment will be in the hands of her oncologist. Her visits with the surgeon were the tough part, like climbing a mountain. She'd just reached the top and was ready to speed down to base camp. Viva would be getting healthy again.
We overheard him and immediately we all rushed out from the other rooms to surround Viva and her husband. We gave her hugs, thanked her for being our patient, and she thanked us.
And then she did something so thoughtful, as other breast cancer patients have done. She donated money to Denim Day. Her husband filled out a tribute card for his wife. It reads, "In Honor of Viva." As they left, we thanked them for driving such a long distance. They looked at us and said, "The distance was worth it, you guys have been great."

They left, clinic resumed its usual pace, but we know taking care of Viva has been our honor.

The angel charm above is available online from the Pink Ribbon Shop for only $9.95.

Denim and Stories

When I go back in on Monday, I'll take my camera. The door is now filled with tribute cards, filled out by people who came into the office and donated $5. We've met the gamut of people. One woman is a survivor. She's been cleared of cancer for fifteen years. Others have cancer now, and are grateful for the support we are giving to the cause. So many of the donors have lost wives, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, fathers, grandfathers. Each had a special story to tell, and there wasn't one we weren't moved by. There was the fiancee who wrote a tribute card to a mother-in-law who died of breast cancer that she'd never meet. A thin patient with breast cancer who gave $5 in honor of her father, who recently died. And there was the secretary whose childhood was marred the morning her grandmother died and then her mother got in an accident that same afternoon and was killed. We appreciated every story.

We appreciate that they took the time to come to the office and make Denim Day a huge success. We raised over $1,000.
This is a preliminary list. We had such a busy clinic day that I didn't have a chance to get the full list from Kaity Marie.

Bergman Medical Group
Physical Therapy Associates
Financial Network Investment Co.
The Employees of Jay Oberholtzer
The Employees of Smith-Barney
The Employees of Dr. Jafari
Dr. and Mrs. Mark C. Lee and Staff
Dr. Dinesh Ghiya and Staff
Drs. Minardo, Jouvenat, Arman and Staff
Friendly Hills Pharmacy

and patients as well, whose name I won't post here due to HIPAA regulations.
As predicted in my very first post, this has been FUN!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thank you

In addition to those previously listed, the following offices have dropped by with their donations.

Dr. Jafari
Financial Network
Drs. Minardo, Arman, and Jouvenat
Dr. Ghiya
Smith Barney
in addition, several patients have written "in memory" or "in honor" cards. On Monday, I'll update this list with a picture of all of them.

The List Of Ones

Tommorow is the big day.

One more day until we're all wearing denim.
One more person will be referred to us because they have a breast mass.
One more person will have a biopsy.
One more person will find out they have breast cancer.

So pull on that denim skirt, shirt or jeans. Give $5, and wear your pin.

Backburner note: The Original Roadhouse Grill wants to participate later in the month (since the entire month is breast cancer awareness month). We'll bring up the flyers when their corporate office gives final aproval.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Your Donations At Work

Through our new partnership with the Women's Cancer Programs of EIF, the dollars donated through Lee National Denim Day will directly fund the early detection and treatment research and community breast cancer programs detailed below.

Your dollars directly support major research initiatives at seven of the leading research institutions in the countryThe following institutions will all have a new lab called the LEE JEANS LABORATORY for Translational Breast Cancer Research:

Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, Md.
Harvard University – Cambridge, Mass.
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center – Houston, Texas
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – Los Angeles, Calif. YAY!!!
University of Chicago – Chicago, Ill.
University of Washington – Seattle, Wash.
Vanderbilt University – Nashville, Tenn.
The seven institutions are working together – a first in the research world – and Lee National Denim Day funding will help dramatically increase the rate at which laboratory breakthroughs can be translated to more effective therapies for patients.

Lee National Denim Day funds will support the EIF Breast Biomarker Discovery Project – a multi-year effort led by world-class scientists to develop a blood test for the early detection of breast cancer. This project is an unprecedented collaboration between nationally and internationally recognized scientific leaders focused on a singular goal – to discover biomarkers that can detect breast cancer when it can be cured.

Funds collected through Lee National Denim Day will also allow the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund to create a unique multi-media web-based and print resource dedicated to providing individuals with breast cancer, those at risk, and their families and friends all the tools they need to make informed decisions about all issues in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. This resource will allow them to become advocates for themselves and others.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Have a cuppa tea!

There are days when I'm just blown away by thoughtfulness. Patients with breast cancer are donating to the cause. Not only that, they're filling out tribute cards honoring others in their families who have died. A big THANK YOU to the organizers of Lee National Denim Day for sending us 25 posters of Pierce. They've been distributed to all the offices and ours is no longer the exclusive domain of Pierce Posters.

And THANK YOU to the following persons and groups who have brought by their donations today:
Dr. and Mrs. McClard (a.k.a Kaity Marie's grandparents!)
The Rezendez Family
The employees of Smith-Barney

Yes, have a cuppa tea. But don't wait until the end of the day!

Attend the "Tea for Triumph" sponsored by Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital on Sunday, October 15 from 1 - 3 p.m. at the Flor and Frank L. Scott Conference Center in the Blanchard-Haendiges Auditorium at PIH 12401 Washington Blvd., Whittier. This free event commemorates National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Enjoy an afternoon of High Tea and deserts and a presentation by author and breast cancer survivor Carol Edmonston. Carol has written two books: "Connections... the Sacred Journey Between Two Points" and "Create While You Wait: A Doodle Book for All Ages." Carol will share how she uses her art to reduce stress and embrace life by weaving creative connections between mind, body and spirit, integrating ancient wisdom with the simple, spontaneous act of doodling.
Seating is limited: rsvp by Wednesday, October 11 at 698-0811 Ext. 5631

Monday, October 02, 2006

And today's suprise visit comes from....

David Lee from Bergman Medical Group, who just walked in the door donated $500. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Our Neighbors

Today, Kaity Marie will deliver Sunday's posting as a flyer along with this one of Pierce. When we first started this effort one week ago, no one knew us. But that's changing now.

We're getting to know our neighbors. Right above our office is a large realty firm. They're the same ones who left their automatic coffee maker running one weekend. I happened to be working at 6:30 on a Saturday, when their pot runneth over... soaking through the carpet upstairs and pouring a stream of java into my office. There's an attorney tucked away upstairs. He was away last week on vacation. His two legal secretaries celebrated denim day everyday. I've finally met the nephrologist downstairs. His wife runs the practice, and she's agreed to participate. She's a gem.

When we gave a big poster of Pierce to the pediatrician's office manager, she claimed she was taking it home. We convinced her otherwise --use it to raise money for the cause before tacking it to her garage workbench next to the hammers and jars of nails! I always like my daily trip downstairs to buy water at the pharmacy. They're selling pink tic tacs and sponge bobs for the month of October.

Physical Therapy Associates, Inc. has a USC banner that I see every Monday and Thursday. I go down for physio on my rebuilt foot. Though I'm a Bruin, I can't complain. They're in the lead. If they can come up with an additional $50, I'll shout, "Go Trojan" on Friday.

I appreciate the gracious spirit in which these materials have been accepted. For the most part, these are all small businesses. Some only have two to four employees. Others (like the PT's) are bigger. All amounts that we receive are needed to drive this message through:

From the Denim Day information sheet:

Nearly 2,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.
Nearly 212,920 women will be diagnosed will be found to have invasive breast cancer this year.
40,000 women will die.

And here is another fact:

The American Cancer Society is a wonderful resource for the patient, family and caregivers. The ACS offers literature in different languages (valuable, as 25% of our patient base is ESL), transportation services to help patients get from their home to treatment, support groups, and a regularly updated website. The ACS would be my first stop if I were diagnosed. At Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital, they're located on the first floor.

One more:

Patients are being referred to our office everyday with breast masses. There's much to do. We can all help.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Fun Things This Week

Good News: The cast and crew of NBC's hit series "The Office" is going denim! Dunder Mifflin has produced this public service announcement.

Play the guessing game.These are my dogs. Chester and Louie will be WEARING pink for Denim Day. If your office wants to guess what mix they are, please donate an additional $5/ per employee to the cause. Only those offices who play the guessing game will get the answer!

1. Friendly Hills Pharmacy has PINK tic tacs.

2. The Mariposa Boutique at Presbyterian Hospital's Patricia L. Scheifly Breast Health Center has PINK hats, wallets, purses, shirts and scarves on sale. 12393 Washington Bl, Whittier 562 698 0811 ext. 5638.

3.Wearing denim with a PINK ribbon lapel pin on Friday! (Men --you might be mistaken for Pierce that day.)

Be sure to bring your donations by this week to Suite 330! The physical therapy team leads the pack.... must be all that working out!

Be sure to call if you're coming during lunch. If you come on Tuesday or Friday, we're packed with patients. So best to come on Monday, Wednesday or Thursday.

I've asked the managers of the Original Roadhouse Grill if they would donate 10% of lunchtime tabs if anyone wearing denim from 15141 has lunch between 12 - 2 on Friday. They said they'd see. Let's all hope they do!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Swimming in materials!

Good news: an attorney, pharmacy, a realty office, and a nephrologist and several patients will be supporting Denim Day! (And a big high five to our favorite patient, her husband and her father.... hang in there, we'll get you through this).

In our office, we have patients with all sorts of needs. It's a big range, from hernias, hemorrhoids to cancers that vary from pancreatic to breast. The cancer patients are our favorites. I'd trade ten gallstone patients for a cancer patient anyday. Facing operations and chemo, they tend to get their priorities straight. They're grateful, they say thank you. They love God, family, friends and their doctors, usually in that order. Cancer tends to strip all the frippery away that they used to worry about. They just want to get well, they just want to know what's next, how to manage their new situation.

One of the areas we've recently beefed up has been our literature. We have materials about about diet, breast cancer, cancer support groups in the lobby and exam rooms. We put them into the exam rooms because some people might not feel comfortable grabbing something about cancer in the lobby in front of total strangers.

I called the American Cancer Society and ordered some 'brochures.' The clerk on the phone was so enthusiastic and he had lots of suggestions. Thinking they'd be thin little brochures, I ordered 100 of each. Little did I know that they were sending booklets! Imagine my surprise when the UPS man delivered boxes and boxes of materials! Surrounded by colorectal, breast cancer, and support group materials, I realized I didn't have space in our small office for all of them. So add to my list of duties, that of ACS unofficial ambassador. I'm giving them to other doctors offices, and even nabbed the business development director of the local hospital next door. Those of you who will remember the year I ordered 100 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, thinking my daughter could sell them in my office after school, will laugh. It's the same scenario.