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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Copyright ÂŠ 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used or reproduced by any means without the written permission of the publisher. DISCLAIMER: Mahogany Belle and its editors have made every effort to provide accurate and timely information. The publisher, contributors, editors, and other related associates do not assume responsibility for information that is incorrect or omitted. The Belle Squad disclaims neglect, liability and damages as a result of erroneous information. The content provided is solely for informational purposes. GENERAL REQUESTS: ShawndaMahoganyBelle@gmail.com PUBLISHING/WRITING OPPORTUNITIES: PrincessMahoganyBelle@gmail.com ADVERTISEMENTS: ShereeMahoganyBelle@gmail.com WEBSITE ADDRESS: www.issuu.com/MahoganyBelle
FOUNDERS & PUBLISHERS Shawnda Chaney Princess L. Johnson
FEATURED WRITER Sheree U. Avent
MANAGING EDITOR Shawnda Chaney CREATIVE EDITOR Princess L. Johnson
GUEST WRITERS Jonathan R. Alston Pauline Bailey Priscilla Hubbard Markise J. Lee
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Hilda R. Johnson
COLUMNIST Cheryl Carter
DESIGN & LAYOUT Samantha Key
FASHION EDITOR Shantell Bush
COVER DESIGN Christina Dion
ON THE COVER Mahogany Belle
From the Belle Sqaud WANT TO BE AN AMBASSADOR? Mahogany Belle Ambassadors are official representatives and are charged with doing work that represents our mission and purpose, continue to spread the word about Mahogany Belle and encourage others to get involved. Mahogany Belle Ambassadors will participate in Mahogany Belle interviews and other events and initiatives that may present themselves throughout the year.
If you have any questions about the Ambassador Program and how you can be involved, please email us at email@example.com for more information. MAHOGANY BELLE
MAHOGANY BELLE FEATURES WHO IS SHE?
Cover Design by Christina D. Jones
MARIA KATHRYN RYLES ALSTON Written by Jonathan Ryles Alston, Sr.
SHANTELL’S FASHION NOTEBOOK Fashion by Shantell L. Bush
I’M STILL HERE
Written by Pauline Bailey
WHY ME? WHY NOT? Written by Sheree U. Avent
Mahogany Belle We’re looking for sharp writers to contribute stories, articles or essays that fit in tone with our magazine. If you have a story to share or a passion for writing and would like to share your work with other women who have traveled the road, may need encouragement to continue the fight, we’d enjoy hearing from you! Mahogany Belle is targeted to be a vital tool to mahogany women in search of hope, a purpose and empowerment in their lives. Now more than ever, we have to be appreciative and triumphant of our skin, our curves, our attractiveness and everything that makes us the unique belles we are. If you have questions, please e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to your submission!
A CUPFUL OF MOTIVATION Written by Cheryl Carter
I’M A SURVIVOR
Interview by Markise J. Lee
A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
t is with pride and great anticipation that we bring you the first issue of Mahogany Belle. It promises not only to be a source of information, but support and entertainment as well. Today, breast cancer is the most common cancer among African American women with an estimated 19,540 new cases of breast cancer expected this year. African American women have a 37 percent greater chance of dying from breast cancer than our Caucasian counterparts. Early detection and diagnosis is the key to survival. As a 34-year survivor this coming June, I can witness to this fact. In 1977, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, with follow up treatments, including a radical mastectomy, radiation and a year of chemotherapy. During that time, I knew absolutely nothing about the disease; it just wasn’t talked about the way it is today. And when it was, it was referred to as the “Big C”. Great strides have been made over the last 25 years and with continued research, there will be many more advances. Our greatest enemy is fear, fear of what the doctor is going to tell us. We must learn to ask questions during our annual check ups no matter how insignificant they may seem. That’s the first step in learning how to arm ourselves against this disease. Education is the key to early diagnosis and survival. In addition to knowing our cultural history, we should learn about our family history. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about what is happening with your body, the better prepared you will 6
Talk to me:
be in handling any unforeseen situations. It is important to note that all women can get breast cancer, even those who have no family history of the disease. It has to start somewhere, and unfortunately, sometimes it starts with you. Let’s make a pledge today to educate ourselves and each other so we will have the proper tools to fight and win this battle. In memory of those who lost their battle, we dedicate this issue to you, and in honor of those who are fighting courageously, we celebrate you, we celebrate life. Let us strive each day to MAKE TODAY COUNT!
Hilda R. Johnson Editor-in-Chief
LETTER FROM THE CO-EDITOR-IN-CHEIF
ou have a collect call from: A healthier you. A motivated you. A successful you. Do you wish to accept or reject this call?
Mahogany Belle, an online magazine, exists to provide the connection you need. Expand your financial power, upgrade your nutritional diet, and transform your physical shape with the tips and resources offered to readers of this magazine. Through stories, articles and relevant content, you will find spiritual leadership principles to apply in calm or challenging circumstances. Every year, someone tells of a single change they made in their life that attributed to them reaching their maximum potential. Eating an apple a day, waking up thirty minutes early to exercise, establishing and honoring budgets and just maybe this magazine
could jump start your life to a greater you… the ‘you’ that you keep dreaming of. Now is the time. We look forward to bringing you the best. “Working with the Belle Sqaud on this project reinforced the importance of this disease in our community. It also reminds me of just how much I miss my mom.”
Shawnda Chaney Founder/Co-Editor-in-Chief
Talk to me:
Always remembering my mom Paulette Stafford
LETTER FROM THE CREATIVE EDITOR
He HAS moved MOUNTAINS What a joyful celebration of mahogany belles!
s I begin to think about all the women who have sat and waited for their test results; there is nothing like that moment of hearing the words, “your results are in.” Your heart begins to beat faster and harder, butterflies swarm your stomach and everything seems to stop. My spirit moves as my thoughts immediately flash the faces of so many “legends” who have heard those same words, and I wanted to find a way to celebrate these unseen faces, unheard voices of resilience and remarkable courage. As we begin to build this bridge connecting motivation to determination, so much joy and humility fills my spirit. My thoughts are always with them, but with one in particular. Growing up, my brother and I saw it every day and had been explained to what it was for; I mean, you couldn’t miss it! It was not the same color as her arm and we watched her tug faithfully, every morning to get it on. As I got older, it dawned on me that I needed to find out what was really going on with it. I needed to find out the significance and the effects this could have on me; there’s a possibility I may have to wear it. It is a Compression Support Sleeve for patients who may have poor circulation in their arm as a result of the removal of lymphnodes, which are tested to see if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Mahogany Belle has been birthed by two heiresses of two jewels for our women, by our women to share real stories, motivation, tips and support as we continue to fight for the cure. During our college years at Fort Valley State University, Shawnda and I did not discuss our mothers. However, we knew there was a silent bond that only the two of us shared and understood.
Now in my adult years, I have begun to realize the extreme importance of self-tests and early detection. I feel it is my responsibility to my “girls” to share the knowledge that has been taught to me and read over the years. The effort, energy, coins and my commitment is to you “Ma”; my BFFL, my rock of wisdom and burning torch of support. I was given the blessing of growing up and maturing under you: a praying mama; a mama that knows how to make a dollar out of fifteen cents. My souls cries out when I look back and remember the food cooked, hair combed, washing of clothes and love you still gave to me, daddy and Myron all while you were going through your chemotherapy and radiation. A warrior! To all those who can attest to this struggle, I salute you! Fighting to win this battle,
Princess. Johnson Founder/Creative Editor One day Dana Chapman one day, we’ll ride that chariot together
Reggie Ramsey Diego Mays Opa Clegg, III
Talk to me:
The story of... Maria Kathryn Ryles Alston
aria Kathryn Ryles Alston, born June 26, 1928, was the fourth of seven children born to Cassie and Elizabeth Ryles in Philadelphia, PA. She was educated in the Philadelphia Public School System where she graduated from Germantown High School. Mom was very musically inclined and was self taught on the tuba and piano. Mom was a highly motivated person possessing a very determined personality. Mom was the first and only one of her siblings to attend college at Howard University. Her determination and dedication to higher learning spawned her career as a public servant, as well as being a wealth of knowledge to her family. It was in Washington, DC that she began her long service as a Civil Servant, while working at Freedmen’s Hospital, as a Purchasing Agent. Kathryn was married to John Alston in 1951 and was the mother of four children: Jonathan, Shelton, Karman and Fitzgerald. A dedicated mother and provider her children and later her grandchildren, were the love of her life. The most important values espoused by my mother were those of dignity, independent thinking, education and hard work. Mom showed us by her very presence and behaviors, how to live our lives with dignity in spite of any financial or social barriers that may have been in our paths. The importance of education and dedication were passed down to her children as well as other members of her family, and she always urged us to dream and be all that we could be. Her dedication was clearly characterized by her long term employment in the Federal Government, where she worked until being incapacitated by cancer. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, her attitude could be best characterized as that of a soldier. Her faith in God and love for her family resulted
Lovingly Submitted on behalf of her family by Jonathan Ryles Alston, Sr. January 19, 2011
in Mom often calming our fears and further showing by example her desire to live life on her own terms and trust in God’s will. The impact of her diagnosis on her children was that of the impending loss of our rock, the one person we could always depend on to be there for us; the one person who always had a positive outlook as to the success of her children, NO MATTER WHAT. What I remember most about my mother was her dedication to her children and the personal sacrifices that she made in order to provide for us physically, emotionally and spiritually. My mother was totally focused on providing the best environment and opportunities that would encourage and support our growth in those areas. Additionally, my mother’s love of music, which permeated her entire being, has had a major impact on my life, as it provided the foundation for the love of this art form by my deceased brother Shelton and me. Gone from this earth since April 4, 1986, Maria Kathryn Ryles Alston was truly a great Mother and person. She was a one of a kind gem who loved her family with a passion, was loved by her family with a passion, and is truly missed by her family. However, her character, upbringing, determination, and dignity live on in her children, our children, and our children’s children.
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he Belle Squad would like to personally thank each of our sponsors and express our gratefulness for the support and energy poured into us as we worked effortlessly on this project. Your sponsorships allowed us to improve every effort in reaching the goal of launching this asset to our community. We are appreciative for your interest in our dream to give so many mahogany belles their chance to express and be heard. We all have potential, never give up. It is through these type of collaborations that we will be able to continue to gain momentum and achieve greater success. A special thank you to Samantha for putting both feet forward to bring this project to a reality. Check her out at http://web.me.com/sakey
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One story can inspire and provide hope for so many women and men across the world. It could be a friend, family member, etc. who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Regardless of who you know with this lifethreatening, life-altering disease, the power of someoneâ€™s words can have an impact greater than you would ever imagined. Turn the pages of Mahogany Belle and begin to connect with survivors, their spouses, children and friends. There are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. It's tragic that so many people have had breast cancer, however the number of survivors shows that great strides have been made in early detection and treatment. Continue to remember those fighting Legends who have gone on before us. Remember their family and friends who miss them daily. Life cannot be taken for granted, so always MAKE TODAY COUNT! MAHOGANY BELLE
SHANTELL’S FASHION NOTEBOOK
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Pink Pony, Slim-Fit Pony Tee
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HERE! By Pauline Bailey
A BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR FIGHTS THE ILLNESS, WORKED AND TOOK CARE OF HOME.
ancer is not a death sentence. I am a breast cancer survivor of 22 years. I thank God for all blessings. The diagnosis has made me realize what’s truly important in my life. My family is my life because of their love and support; it gave me hope and will power to fight. Because of my faith, family, church and many friends I AM BLESSED and appreciate everyday that I RECEIVE!! I strongly believe in breast self examination because that’s how I found the lump in my breast. My physician ordered a mammogram which did not show any cancer. The lump was hard and I was scheduled for a biopsy which confirmed cancer. All lumps are not cancer but it is important to have a biopsy. My treatment began in July 1988, surgery, six months of chemo and five weeks of radiation. I was on leave for six weeks recuperating at home. Treatment continued after returning to work with chemo every Friday and radiation every day after work. It was hard, but it was something I had to do and still take care of my three children, with the help of a strong husband and helpmate. I’m grateful that through all my treatments, I didn’t have a lot of side effects and NO HAIR LOST. My prayers were answered; no hair lost and was able to tolerate the chemo while working. I am now retired after a long career in the Pathology Department at Candler Hospital. GOD is GOOD!!! I thank God, the support of my family and my health care providers!!!!!!!!!!! 16
Pauline Bailey retired from being a Histology Technician in 2009 and has been enjoying her free time at home with her family. She currently lives in Savannah, GA with her husband, three kids and nine grandkids. She continues to advocate for breast cancer awareness, encouraging her daughter, daughter in laws, nieces, neighbors, church members and other women she comes in contact with to perform monthly breast self-exams, annual screenings and if over 40, an annual mammogram.
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Will using Xtreme Fuel Treatment void the engine manufacturerâ€™s warranty? No, Engine manufactures cannot discriminate against the use of a fuel additive. Under the terms of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty act, engine manufacturers must take the position that the use of a fuel additive does NOT void the engine warranty unless it can be proven that the specific additive was the cause of the failure. Manufactures may assert that the use of certain additives may prove useful. Do I need to add the Xtreme Fuel Treatment on an empty tank? Xtreme Fuel Treatment is made to disperse quickly into your complete fuel tank; it does not matter if you add the additive on an empty tank or a full tank. However, it makes more sense to add the additive before you begin pumping your fuel.
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Can I use lower grades of fuel when using Xtreme Fuel Treatment? The Xtreme Fuel Treatment formula allows you to use the lowest octane fuel without causing pings or lower engine performance. MAHOGANY BELLE
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Priscilla Hubbard Tells HER STORY
his was one of the most difficult periods of my lifetime. January 2001, I was suffering with depression following the loss of my father to prostate cancer. My daily prayer was for God to place me where I needed to be placed. April 2001, I began working with a Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. Shortly after starting the job, I discovered an unsual lump in my breast. I visited several physicians and was repeatedly told “not to worry, black women are Fibroid cystic.” After many request and finally demanding a sonogram, it was determined a need for further investigation. On August 4, 2001, my biopsy came back positive for Stage II breast cancer.
for me to focus on the important things in life which was life itself. It was my job to educate women on the importance of early detection and how to perform self-breast exams. Once diagnosed, it enhanced my ability to get women to go for an annual mammogram.
I allowed myself three days of self-pity and then it was on! I was determined that I would not lose this battle. I called in all of my spiritual advisors and repeatedly said, “by His stripes I am healed.” A strong support group and my faith were very important factors to my recovery. After getting passed why me, it became why not me? I am a strong believer in the fact that God will get your attention, and it was time MAHOGANY BELLE
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October 16, 1997, I rolled out of surgery with a glow, at least that’s was what my husband told me. Antoinette Norton, now age 47, a wife, mother, daughter and friend, has been glowing ever since. On that day, at the age of 35, she was due to have a mastectomy, removing her left breast, after being diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma in situ. In situ breast cancer refers to cancer in which the cells have remained within their place of origin — they haven’t spread to breast tissue around the duct or lobule. However, her journey began almost 10 years before the diagnosis. At the age of 26, during a routine doctor’s visit, Antoinette was told her breast were dense. She didn’t really know what that meant, but she had a base line mammogram. Her results were nothing to be concerned with, so she went on with her daily life, using the advice to make sure she paid attention to her body. For the next five years she lived, loved, laughed and gave birth to her youngest son in 1991. After his birth, Antoinette noticed her breast were larger with this pregnancy than with her other two and she had gained an excessive amount of weight. But her life and newborn called. She dove into raising them, making sure they were healthy and happy. Her life consisted of serving God and raising her children, her only two priorities. Four years later, another mammogram showed signs of calcium deposits, but they were of no major concern to her doctor since there was no history of breast cancer in her family and besides, she was young! 22
FEATURED BELLE In 1996, Antoinette and her family packed up and moved to Raleigh, North Carolina from Seattle, Washington. She was urged by her doctor in Washington to find a good doctor in North Carolina and make sure she got the proper care she needed. So, across country she went for a new adventure…and an adventure is what she got. She got to the business of getting her family settled: find a permanent house to call home, a place to serve the Lord, a job, and medical professionals for both her and her children. She began Real Estate school and found a doctor, who she gives partial credit for saving her life, behind God and her family. It was during a routine physical exam that Antoinette was told she had low iron, as if she had some type of internal bleeding. She was sent for a series of tests, including a colonoscopy. She never once thought it could have something to do with her breasts even after all the past red flags. During the time of her tests, Antoinette noticed discharge from one of her breast and confided in a close friend. Her friend urged her to go to the emergency room. Her first thought was to disregard the discharge, so she hesitated going to the emergency room. Soon, she found herself making a life changing decision; but, with her husband at her side, she stepped through the doors of the emergency room. What she hoped would be a quick trip and exam, ended with a referral to a surgeon. When asked what was going through her mind at that moment, she replied, “nothing really. I was OK. My thoughts were with God and I knew everything was going to be OK.” After two different biopsies, the surgeon confirmed that Antoinette had Carcinoma in situ breast cancer. The surgeon discussed all her treatment options with her and her husband and the possibility of having reconstructive surgery. Her mind immediately went to her children and whether she was going to be here for them. There was no way she could take any chances
and possibly leave them, so her treatment had to be swift and permanent. It October 16, 1997, Antoinette underwent a mastectomy of her left breast, choosing not to have reconstructive surgery. At that time in her life, Antoinette wanted to focus on her inner beauty. She wanted her love for herself to shine through the scar and intensify her glow. She felt blessed to have made it through the surgery and could not change the plan mid-stream. Her support system which consisted of her husband, mother and children helped her recover quickly. So quickly in fact, she started a new job at North Carolina State University two weeks after the surgery. Having her mother travel Washington to be with her made a big difference in her outcome. She knows her mother stepped in the ring and fought the cancer with and for her. Antoinette was worried about what the affects of the illness was going to have on her family. She never wanted them to worry and thought about not telling anyone besides her husband. She held on to GOD’s unchanging hand and chose to use the strength of her family to win her battle. Today, Antoinette is an advocate for breast cancer awareness and strongly encourages all African American women to get a baseline mammogram before the age of 40 and to know your body. “Never be scared to talk to your doctor, and remember if you have to have a mastectomy, BEAUTY COMES FROM WITHIN.” When asked, “Why her?” her response was, “Why Not Me? That was GOD’s plan (and you) can’t mess with that!”
About the Writer
As a writer and mother of a nine year old twin seven year olds, Sheree, a graduate of Towson State University, recently started an all natural body care line with her sister, ‘Softening Our Skin’ by Stacie or Sheree. Wish list for the future: continuing to strive to be a better me, as a Christian and a Mom; travel to Italy; and self- publish novels.
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You may feel the need to make adjustments along the can’t believe I’ve reached this point in my life, way however they will only be the changes you see fit. finally finding my passion….writing! The fact that I Continue to focus on your strengths mentally and in am able to reach others through words by releasing turn your positivity will not allow your self-doubt to my inner thoughts and personal experiences is truly a swamp your feelings and thoughts. blessing. Being a young mother of three vivacious little In no way am I saying that self-confidence can be ones, I have so much I want to share. When Princess developed overnight it takes time, patience, willingness, first asked me to do this column, my first thought, and determination. With all these characteristics safely “there is no way I can do that. I have never written under your belt you can develop the personal power to before on this level.” I didn’t think others would care conquer your own negative thoughts. This in turn will to hear what I had to say. Then she said something that keep you on the road to success and allow you to build made me channel my thinking to moving forward and an image of yourself you will always be proud of. No tackle this column head on: “what if your words reach matter what fall in love with your reflection! just one person, won’t it all be worth it?” That was all There is no one like you on this earth. No one the convincing I needed. I consider life to be a neverknows your struggles or your many talents. Keep your ending storybook; we each decide how our chapters mindest on the many attributes you can offer this world, will read. I am so excited to unveil my story to you. that way there can be no jealousy, My self-confidence was “Without a humble but reasonable resentment, or comparison. Be not always at this stage, there confidence in your own powers you confident in your purpose! were countless times when I cannot be successful or happy.” would look in the mirror and -Norman Vincent Peale point out all the flaws I could find. I wish my thighs were smaller, why is my skin Welcome to my Premier Motivation Suite! so light, why can’t my eyes be a different color oh and my favorite why is my butt so big? The list could go on and on but one day I stopped and looked in that same mirror and decided before anyone could accept me for me I had to accept myself. In the past I worried about others acceptance of me especially amongst my peers and within friendships. Being a biracial female I felt the need to fit in with both ethnic groups hoping that I would be the outcast. As I matured I finally understood that it wasn’t the color of my skin or the race of my parents that was of importance it was me as a person. Cheryl is a mother of three beautiful small I soon begun to develop a positive realistic fries that she strategically finds time to spend view of myself one that I was determined to not let with them individually. She has found her passion anyone alter. If there was need for change it would be in writing and sharing inspirational pieces and based on my personal outlook of myself. Your selfunknowingly has become the words of strength worth is not calculated by others perception of you but to so many. Her husband has often encouraged by what you believe your value is. Accepting yourself her to make this hobby of hers a dream completely means as a whole, the good and the bad.
About the Columnist
come true...and here she is! MAHOGANY BELLE
INTERVIEWED BY MARKISE J. LEE
How do you feel today as a seven year survivor?
Well, today I feel liberated. You know, free in a sense. Not in a million years would I think that I would have to deal with the perils of breast cancer. I have always been a faithful Christian, paid my taxes, worked and raised my children with love. So at first, I was like Lord why me? However, today I feel great, sometimes sad, but determined to live a healthier life. I was diagnosed in 2004, so just still being here is a blessing. I, Marshell Bernice Lee am so grateful!
Tell me what went through your mind when your results were told to you?
Can you describe the decision-making process in terms of what to do now?
What’s life like now?
I felt so empty when I initially heard the results. Devastation, hopelessness, the end of it all ran thru my mind. It was something you could not fathom. Nowadays, I eat properly, take my meds and pray! I enjoy every moment that I am able to see the sun come up. I am so thankful and I encourage my kids to do the same. I am an advocate for the Lord.
Once I was admitted to the Memorial Medical Center in 2004, everyone pretty much found out on their own. Guess u could say I was reluctant to tell them because I was still taking it all in.
Life now is like a beach. The family has been so supportive; just to be able to see another day is so joyful…no complaints here. 26
Were you the first in the family to ever receive this diagnosis?
Unfortunately, yes I was the first to be diagnosed with breast cancer. I would not wish this on anyone; I despise cancer. Nevertheless, I will keep my trust in the Lord; I shall survive! My name is Marshell Bernice Lee and I AM A CANCER SURVIVOR!
The side effects of
Breast Cancer Chemotherapy and Radiation
Loss of Appetite
Loss of appetite is a common side effect of breast cancer treatment. Try these tips to ensure you are eating a healthy diet during treatment: • Eat several small meals during the day, instead of three large meals. • Try an “instant breakfast” mix or other nutritional shakes. • Eat the largest meal when you are most hungry, which varies from person to person. • Drink beverages either a half hour before or after meals so they do not interfere with your appetite. • Consider moderate exercise to increase your appetite..
Weakness and Fatigue
Weakness and fatigue can have many causes, including the treatment itself, worry or depression, not eating, pain, inactivity, and low blood counts. • Make sure you get enough rest. Sleep at least eight hours a night, and try to lie down during the day to rest. Avoid caffeine if it interferes with sleep. • Exercise. Short walks can actually increase appetite and energy. Exercise can help you rest better, even if you are feeling fatigued. • Be choosy about activities. Get help from family and friends with errands and other chores. • If you feel pain, let your oncologist know. There is no need to suffer in silence. • Eat a diet high in iron. • If fatigue is caused by low red blood cell counts (anemia), you may be given a growth factor called erythropoietin (Procrit), which stimulates bone marrow to make red blood cells. It can be given by injection, which can be continued at home. Patients receiving this are carefully monitored for rashes and blood pressure.
Some women with breast cancer gain weight because of several factors: • • • •
Lack of activity Emphasis on eating Medicines Depression
If you notice you are gaining weight, let your doctor know. Do not go on a diet on your own since your body needs a lot of nutrients during breast cancer treatment. 28
Whether women lose their hair depends on the type of chemotherapy they take for breast cancer and the dose. Your oncologist will likely tell you if you can expect hair loss. While some women notice only thinning of their hair, others lose their hair completely. Some lose hair suddenly, while others notice a more gradual loss a few weeks after starting treatment. Sometimes, eyelashes and eyebrows also fall out. Losing hair can be very difficult emotionally. Some women prepare by getting a short hair cut before chemotherapy begins. A variety of hair wraps and wigs are available to wear during chemotherapy. Some women notice that their hair texture changes when it grows back in, but many experience no change in their hair. The good news about hair loss is that it begins growing back once treatment is stopped. It can take several months to completely regrow hair.
Nausea and Vomiting
Some - but not all - cancer patients experience nausea. You can take medicines called antiemetics before chemotherapy to reduce nausea. Keep track of when you have nausea. Nausea can occur right after treatment or several days later. • Eat small meals frequently and avoid fatty, greasy foods and citrus. • Try foods at room temperature instead of very hot or cold. • When nauseous, try bland foods like crackers, gelatin, ice chips, rice, plain mashed potatoes, or applesauce. • Contact your doctor if you have severe nausea or frequent vomiting. If you vomit, wait an hour before eating or drinking anything. Then, begin with ice chips and gradually add foods. Chamomile or ginger root tea, or ginger ale can sometimes help settle your stomach.
Lowered Resistance to Infections
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for breast cancer can disrupt the production of white blood cells, which are essential for fighting infection. Try to stay out of large crowds, and away from sick adults and children, for seven to 10 days after receiving chemotherapy. That’s when your white counts are usually lowest. Contact your doctor right away if you become sick. Sometimes doctors recommend taking antibiotics as a precaution. Others suggest women receive a flu shot before beginning chemotherapy. If your white blood cell counts are too low, you may be given a growth factor called G-CSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor -- Neupogen or Granocyte) or GM-CSF (granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor -- Leucomax).
Sometimes, a sore mouth or throat can be related to breast cancer treatment. Check with your doctor or dentist to rule out other causes of mouth pain. • Ask your doctor about medicines to reduce mouth soreness. • Choose soft foods that will not irritate your mouth, such as scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, pureed cooked vegetables and bananas. • Cut foods into small pieces. • Avoid citrus, spicy, or salty foods and rough foods
Recognizing a Breast Cancer Emergency
If you have breast cancer, call your nurse or doctor if you have: • A temperature greater than 100º F. If you have any fever and chills, notify your doctor immediately. If you are unable to contact your doctor, go to the emergency room. • If you notice in your mouth new sores, patches, swollen tongue, or bleeding gums. • If you experience a dry, burning, scratchy, or “swollen” throat. • A cough that is new or persistent and produces mucus. • Changes in bladder function, including increased frequency or urgency to go; burning during urination; or blood in your urine • Changes in gastrointestinal function, including heart burn; nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea that lasts longer than two or three days; or blood in stools.
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Published on Jun 2, 2011
Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death among African American women. For decades, black women have been the towers of...