Two Words — Breast Cancer

“Stage Zero? What the heck does that mean?”

My name is Kathi & I’m proudly asymmetrical. At work, I’m a home care physical therapist; at play, I’m an artist, a writer, an Adobe software maven & occasional song parodist. Yes, those are my legs in the icon picture, and that is my Celtic knot tattoo on the right one.

In May of 2008, I had an annual screening mammogram which showed a suspicious group of granules, spread out in a branching pattern in my right breast. After a diagnostic mamm, a stereotactic mamm-cum-biopsy, and a breast MRI, those granules were subsequently found to be high-grade Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, a form of cancer in the mammary ducts that may turn into invasive breast cancer if not treated. I was treated — if you can call amputation, radiation burning & oral chemo poisoning a treat. If they don’t kill you, then you get to live & the cancer dies. I got to live, keep my hair, and get my insurance company to buy me a prosthesis. That’s where I’m at now. Oh, plus still trying to recover from the long- and late-term effects of treatment.

One of the things that helped me get through the big cancer adventure was finding other ‘members of the club.’ One of the other things that helped was to blog about it.

I was never particularly fond of pink, that symbol of breast cancer fund-raising and female gender stereotyping, but I have a new relationship with it now. Unless it appears in nature, I pretty much hate it. There’s nothing good about being a cancer patient, but I found out that there’s a way to get through it with some good grace & even humor. And my friends were phenomenal. I found out that a lot of people care that I’m on the planet, which is a really amazing thing to discover. To read more about the early days of big-adventure-I-could-have-done-without, visit my other pages in this blog, starting with “Shock & Awe” (click on the sidebar link, under “How to be an accidental amazon.”

As time has gone by, and late and long-term side effects have not, this blog has developed in several directions. One of them is to inform readers about informed consent and our right to it. Another is to talk about research — the good, the bad, the hyped — and to help get beyond the headlines. Yet another is to provide personal and evidence-based information about the side effects of cancer treatment, how to recognize them, and how to treat them. And finally, the purpose for which I may most often win new readers is to skewer the rampant pink merchandizing that has come to characterize Pinktober. Breast cancer has been prettified, sexualized and trivialized, all in the name of fundraising. And still, about 40,000 women and men die of metastatic breast cancer every year in the U.S. alone. And we don’t have a cure. And that’s just not acceptable.

I hope you enjoy the blog and find something in it that resonates. And I hope you will join me and countless other ‘Grumblers’ in helping to change the conversation about breast cancer. We don’t need more so-called ‘awareness.’ We need knowledge, competent treatment that doesn’t leave us with debilitating collateral damage, research, and genuine understanding of this complex disease. A little skepticism — and real knowledge — is better than a whole lot of disillusionment.


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19 Responses to “Two Words — Breast Cancer”

  1. […] 2011 Kathleen Kolb is a physical therapist, artist, breast cancer survivor, and writer of the blog The Accidental Amazon. With her permission, the Pink Ribbon Blues Blog republishes her recent essay about the Komen […]

  2. […] 2011 Kathleen Kolb is a physical therapist, artist, breast cancer survivor, and writer of the blog The Accidental Amazon. With her permission, the Pink Ribbon Blues Blog republishes her recent essay “Whose Life Is It […]

  3. Hi Kathy,

    Me too (Breast Cancer survivor). I saw your blog about the Komen perfume and was intrigued. I too think the perfume is ridiculous and am a bit aghast at Nancy Brinker for shilling it on QVC or HSN, or whichever of those shows she’s been on.

    Your blog is great, so full of information. Looking forward to hearing more, now that I’ve found it.


  4. Welcome, Claudia! Love new visitors. Thanks for your kind comments.

  5. Hi, Kathy,

    Another writer/artist/survivor here, currently undergoing treatment for Stage I IDC. Your blog is great!!

  6. Welcome, Melissa, although I do hate welcoming another person to this wretched “Club!” And thanks!

  7. […] (DCIS) in May of 2008 and began writing a blog about breast cancer about six months later called The Accidental Amazon. Kolb’s blog received the 2011 Royal Purple MAAM Award, in which her nominator wrote that, […]

  8. […] are poetry too, and The Accidental Amazon is a culture jamming songstress extraordinaire. Check out her remake of the 1980s song […]

  9. […] about its efficacy. In fact, I need write no more as my good friend and fellow blogger Kathi (aka The Accidental Amazon) has written a full and excellent explanation about mammography which you can read here. Basically, […]

  10. […] (DCIS) in May of 2008 and began writing a blog about breast cancer about six months later called The Accidental Amazon. Kolb’s blog received the 2011 Royal Purple MAAM Award, in which her nominator wrote that, […]

  11. Kathi,

    Just found you – what a great website. I had DCIS in 2003 at age 44, and was so lucky to have had some experience with complementary doctors prior to that. I refused the tamoxifen and the radiation. I have tried to keep myself healthy with a good supplement regimen, whole foods, minimizing exposure to chemicals (parabens especially) and minimizing alcohol intake. So far, so good.

    I haven’t read a lot on here yet, but enough to know I’ll be spending time here.

    I always feel like folks think I am some kind of heartless freak because of my hatred for the Pink…it’s nice to know others share my feeling.

  12. Glad you found me, Trish.

  13. Thank you for your Blog. I was a “twofer” gal-breast and uterine cancer diagnosis a year ago. I still haven’t processed the surgeries, radiation, seroma, lymphoma, abscess, JP catheter, etc…Looking forward to reading, thank you!!!

  14. Lily, good luck to you. I hope you heal well and stay well.

  15. Kathi, You are a kindred spirit! I got solicited for $$ from a group and as I was talking to them, I looked them up. They were a scam—90% for admin costs! I told them where to go and hung up. i am in your camp about Komen, pink footballs, socks, etc. as you can see from my new book, INTEGRAL HEALING. Check out the web site and FB page. I’d love to do a guest blog for you since folks have to know that your sentiments and observations are right on the $$$.
    I’ll let others know about your blog on my newsleetter—might you do the same for mine? We need more of us who can direct women to sites and groups that are actually doing things in the interests of their health and well-being rather than the callous commercialism that has become the substitute for deep-hearted generosity.
    You might have figured out that I am an educator and a lawyer, so I’ve got worlds of experience and clear-eyed perspective. I know what you have written is true.
    I hope to hear back from you, and create a partnership of some type.
    Lynne D. Feldman, MA, JD

  16. Lynn, just took a quick look at your site. Appreciated some of your post titles — I can so relate!! I have so far not invited guest posts, but I hope to take a look at your book, and perhaps add it to my resource or book list. Thanks for writing. 🙂

  17. Dear Kathi,
    Love your blog. Please let me know if you would welcome a guest blog leading into national breast cancer awareness month. My wife is 12 year survivor and I am willing to write from a man’s perspective on the experience.
    All the best,
    Todd Outcalt

  18. Thanks, Todd. So far, I have not had guest bloggers, but your point of view is a valuable one. Cancer affects spouses and families and loved ones profoundly. If I do decide to have a guest blogger, I will certainly be in touch. I appreciate your visiting and commenting. I hope your wife continues to stay healthy.

  19. […] Kathi is not too fond of the color pink and believes in spreading a different kind of awareness about breast cancer. Her blog was formed to start a movement: changing the conversation about breast cancer, and providing a different perspective on the condition. Her blog works to notify readers of informed consent, further insights behind research being done today, and to give personal and evidence-based information about cancer treatment. Finally, Kathi is working to “skewer the rampant pink merchandizing that has come to characterize Pinktober.” […]

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