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Respect Life while Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness

October is LOUDLY and vividly proclaimed as breast cancer awareness month. Pink ribbons adorn almost every known object – some that really puzzle me (dog food???) — as various organizations vie for funding to promote “awareness” of breast cancer. Much less awareness is raised for the “Catholic” Respect Life month. However, both should and CAN be jointly celebrated and proclaimed. You ask, “Why am I so sure of that?” and “How can that be?”

Because my daughter (almost 2) and I (30 years old) are LIVING PROOF!!  I was diagnosed at age 28 while I was 20 weeks pregnant with her.

It is DEFINITELY possible to respect life and support breast cancer awareness/research without sacrificing one ideal over the other. Some breast cancer organizations do sacrifice to the altar of destroying life (abortion) to ‘save’ life (Susan G. Komen is one — read theKomen statement by Archdiocese of Baltimore; American Cancer Society is another). Sadly, even now, some of the big names in breast cancer awareness still proffer abortion as a necessary step in seeking treatment for breast cancer. Others have (since my frantic searching) updated their sites, but few offer real world support or even more than a vague “it’s possible to have chemotherapy/treatment when pregnant, but…”. This saddens and disappoints me. Especially since MD Anderson has published article(s) in peer reviewed journals as well as press release(s) indicating that women who get treatment while maintaining their pregnancy do BETTER than their non-pregnant (or abortive) counter-parts. The ambiguous wording on these “cancer awareness” sites is un-acceptable.

I have appointed myself as the Pro-Life Breast Cancer Awareness bull-horn.   I try to spread my story with humor and truth to everyone. I’m not opposed to showing someone a photo of my daughter & then launching into our struggle for survival. Some organizations promote life both for women who are victims of breast cancer as well as potential victims of abortion (see list below). I submit these organizations to you as ideas for your donations. I also suggest supporting your local cancer patients by participating in their fund-raisers and benefits. Helping people is what these big-name organizations are supposed to be doing, but the funds do not trickle down to the victims in a realistic or helpful way.

Breast Cancer Prevention Institute
PolyCarp Research Institute
National Breast Cancer Foundation
MD Anderson Cancer Center **

Its also important to note a little known scientific fact: Abortion has been linked to Breast Cancer… Not just by the so-called Christian-Right-Wing, but by a PRO-CHOICE researcher (you can also check out the references in the Arch diocese of Baltimore letter)!  As the earlier article by MD Anderson implies, aborting prior to treatment does NOT increase survival — in fact, the reverse is true! Oral contraceptive use has also been found to INCREASE risk of certain types of breast cancer in some groups of women according to another article. Yet, few of the well-known breast cancer organizations proclaim this scientific fact!

So when you are tempted to “Run for the Cure”, “Race for the Cure”, or any breast cancer awareness event remember this: many/most of these organizations are actually supporting the causation of breast cancer, by actually hiding information from women. Contrary to their public service announcements, ad campaigns, etc, they are not making women aware of their true options, nor are they truly interested in a very effective way to prevent breast cancer. I have, since I began writing this article, found that as early as 1956 it was postulated that abortion does NOT increase survival of pregnant women with breast cancer. That’s over half a century BEFORE I was diagnosed. How many children have been “theraputically” aborted due to cover-up of the facts?

If this month is truly about Breast Cancer Awareness, why not supply women with ALL the facts? Please, support breast cancer awareness with respect for life — ALL life born & unborn.

In addition to their favoring of aborting children, many of these “research” organizations routinely use embryonic stem cells — another  violation of human babies’ rights. Many are also not nearly as effective at using your donations as you assume. A HUGE portion of donations go to furthering more advertizing and paying the salary of the organization’s managers. Some of these organizations are also in the process of suing smaller organizations for using “for the cure” or even the pink ribbon that is universal for breast cancer awareness. Again, your donations may be paying the litigous lawyers pursuing this suit. Before you buy a pink be-ribboned item thinking you’re helping erradicate this terrible disease, ask yourself some questions… Foremost of those, “Does this organization really stand for *my* ideals?” as well as, “Does this organization really use my donation to do research and help women or is my money lining someone’s pocket?”

Please use your computer, smart phone, fingers (dial the phone), etc to ensure your donation is really going where you intend it to go. Don’t necessarily take only my word for it, find out for yourself. It is the wave of the future for everyone to have almost everything accessable to their fingertips. This is a luxury that we should not squander! Think, pray, research, etc before you buy pink!

* Since my diagnosis, these organizations have added a small blurb about treatment being possible during pregnancy, but the information is underwelming to someone actually dealing with such a diagnosis. Calling local offices is actually worse than visiting their online sites — every ACS or SGK representative I have spoken with had no idea that chemotherapy while pregnant was possible, much less well-documented.

 

 

 

 

**I have since been notified that MDA uses embryonic stem cells (ESCs) for research purposes. While I definitely do not condone their use of ESCs, I will continue to use MDA for my cancer center. However, I WILL be drafting a letter to the head of research (or some such) objecting to their use of ESCs. In 2005, when my mother sought treatment with them the laws limiting ESCs use were still in effect and there was a statement made by MDA that said they did not and/or would not use ESCs. I guess they changed their minds. It is up to people like you & me to change their minds once again!

 

**ETA {edited to add}: Courtesy of friends and family who love Erika, there is a fan page set up on Facebook to help defray costs for an upcoming FIFTH surgery that Erika will soon be facing – details can be found on the fan page. If you would like to join, thank you! If you would like to donate pray for Erika, thank you! If you would like to donate a small contribution, thank you! If you kindly share the link to friends and family, thank you!

About Erika

Erika V. is a thirty-something mother of two (with four saints in heaven). With a degree in molecular biology, she works for her state’s police crime lab; although her dream is to stay home with her children and homeschool them. Her newly converted husband is a sometime auto mechanic and primarily a stay-at-home dad. Passionate about pro-life issues and science, she is a survivor of breast cancer while pregnant. At 20 weeks pregnant with her daughter (pregnancy number six), she was diagnosed with BRCA1 stage II breast cancer. When local doctors we stumped with the diagnosis, she traveled to MDAnderson where chemotherapy on pregnant women has been done for over twenty years. After delivering her baby girl and undergoing more chemotherapy, Erika has had a whirlwind of surgeries to combat the cancer as well as the complications of cancer treatments. Three years and eight surgeries later, she continues to be passionate about pro-life endeavors, even winning the local Right to Life group’s Life Award and serving on their working board of directors. She authors two blogs, one a mommy blog Biology Brain-Simon Says and one a breast cancer while pregnant blog Erika’s Miracle Journey. Blog posts are often filled with pro-life references, including medical journal articles supporting the pro-life position. While there isn’t often time, she also enjoys horses, reading, gardening, and KY bourbon.

  • Martina - I love this part of your entry:

    **Please use your computer, smart phone, fingers (dial the phone), etc to ensure your donation is really going where you intend it to go. Don’t necessarily take only my word for it, find out for yourself. **

    I think it sums up the approach we are taking this month. We are providing information and from there we want readers to take it upon themselves to do more research themselves. Awareness starts by caring about anything enough to find out more on our own.October 3, 2011 – 1:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Misty - Unfortunately, the reality is that the breast cancer organization don’t want to be honest about the link between breast cancer and abortion, between contraception and breast cancer, between breastfeeding and breast cancer…because those things have significant bearing on secular feminist goals. If we’re honest about the impact of contraception, abortion, and not breastfeeding, then we risk undermining our goals of giving women complete autonomy. When the real truth is, there are trade-offs to every choice. A woman can choose to put her career first, but then may be 40 and discover she’s sacrificed her fertility. Or she may choose to go back to work and not breastfeed and use contraception to avoid having more children…but there are consequences to these choices, too. Secular feminism wants women to believe there are no consequences to their choices, when in fact there are sometimes grave ones, as Erika pointed out with women who choose to abort when they are diagnosed with cancer. Women ought to at least have the right to know the real impact of their decisions before they make them. And shame on the charities, institutions, and medical professionals who want to keep this information from us.October 3, 2011 – 1:43 pmReplyCancel

  • Audrey Higgins - Excellent research! Thanks for sharing!October 3, 2011 – 1:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Angela - erika, you rock! thank you for laying this out in a logical, well-supported article. hard to argue with!October 3, 2011 – 2:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Mary - Great article! Thanks for this. I would love to read a post where you share more about the story of your journey through pregnancy while having cancer… you haven’t yet, have you?October 3, 2011 – 3:08 pmReplyCancel

  • BirgitJ - Excellent research piece with a personal twist. Thanks for sharing. And I agree with Mary – please tell a more detailed version of your cancer while pregnant journey!October 3, 2011 – 3:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Erika - Thanks for all the comments! I have another article due out on October 17th (I think) that is more personal. It has fewer links & references! 🙂

    I also have a personal cancer blog at http://erikasmiraclejourney.blogspot.com

    Thanks again!October 3, 2011 – 4:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Jessica - Erika – you’re the perfect person to post about this. I think you can defintely be the “Pro-Life Breast Cancer Awareness bull-horn”. Thank you for sharing this with us.October 4, 2011 – 8:46 amReplyCancel

  • RooForLife - FYI for those that oppose organizations that fund or work with human embryonic stemcells ~~~~~~~MD Anderson Cancer Center uses human embryonic stem cell research I found publication that the MD Anderson Cancer Center worked with 293T from human embryo kidney. MD Anderson Cancer Center: ‎2010 Jul 8;9:180 Characterizing cancer cells with cancer stem cell-like features in 293T human embryonic kidney cells.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20615238?dopt=Citation
    Origins of HEK 293 Cells~ The human embryonic kidney cells were obtained from a healthy aborted fetus and originally cultured by Van der Eb himself, and the transformation by adenovirus was performed by Frank Graham who published his findings in the late 1970s after he left Leiden for McMaster University in Canada.[1] They are called HEK for human embryonic kidney, while the number 293 comes from Graham’s habit of numbering his experiments; the original HEK 293 cell clone was simply the product of his 293rd experiment

    FDA Page 81 lines 14-22

    “So the Kidney material, the fetal kidney material was as follows. The kidney of the fetus was, with an unknown family history, was obtained in 1972 probably. The precise date is not known anymore.

    The fetus, as far as I can remember was completely normal. Nothing was wrong. The reasons for the abortion were unknown to me. I probably knew it at the time, but it got lost, all this information.”
    http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/01/transcripts/3750t1_01.pdf

    MD Anderson Cancer Center: Aug 2011 ~
    Transcripts that associate with the RNA binding protein, DEAD-END (DND1), in embryonic stem (ES) cells http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21851623

    A Ph.D. program of The University of Texas
    Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston in the
    Department of Genetics and the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at
    The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Michelle Barton, Ph.D.
    Professor, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Research description
    Our laboratory is focused on basic mechanisms of regulated and aberrant gene expression during differentiation, tissue regeneration and cancer, especially as dictated by members of the p53- family, their interacting protein partners, and chromatin structure. We are using deep sequencing, proteomic analyses and bioinformatics to determine chromatin interactions, post-translational modifications
    and protein partners of p53. Our model systems of interest are embryonic stem cells, liver regeneration and breast cancer. A major focus is TRIM24, a previously unknown E3-ubiquitin ligase of p53 that
    we identified. TRIM24 co-activates estrogen receptor and is a histone reader of a unique signature present at estrogen-regulated genes in breast cancer cells. Additionally, we are currently defining the impact of TRIM24, and other p53 regulatory proteins, on p53-functions in embryonic stem cells,
    and how p53-mediated regulation is temporally controlled during liver regeneration. page 11,
    Sadhan Majumder, Ph.D.
    Professor, Department of Genetics, Department of Neuro-Oncology
    Research description
    The current research in our laboratory involves deciphering how cellular flexibility regulates both normal development and cancer and how such knowledge can be used in therapeutic interventions. We earlier found that the abnormal expression of the transcriptional repressor REST causes medulloblastoma, one of the most malignant brain tumors in children, by blocking differentiation of neural stem cells. In addition, we found that REST is also a potential therapeutic target in these tumors. We are currently pursuing these studies further to shed light on human brain tumor formation and treatment. In a second line of work previously we found that forced activation of REST target genes in neural stem cells or even muscle progenitor cells can reprogram them into a physiologically active neuronal phenotype. These studies provided evidence that cells are more flexible than was previously thought: cell fates can be switched by simple manipulation of a few transcription factors. We are currently utilizing this information to understand important regulations in stem cell biology and human health.
    In a third line of work we previously found that REST maintains self-renewal and pluripotency of embryonic stem cells (ESCs).

    These studies provided a new mechanistic avenue in our on-going work to study how ESCs and cancer stem-like cells are maintained in self-renewal mode and how environmental factors contribute to these mechanisms.page 21,
    http://www.mdanderson.org/education-and-research/education-and-training/schools-and-programs/research-training/programs-and-courses/genes-and-development-phd-program/files/g-d-brochureaug2011.pdfOctober 4, 2011 – 4:47 pmReplyCancel

  • clare - This was so good…I let my daughter read it after having to explain to her why we are not participating in her school’s bracelet program. She is 12 and just was TOUCHED by the grace oozing from this blog post. Thank you so much!! <3 <3October 4, 2011 – 5:08 pmReplyCancel

  • CINDY - THANK YOU! At last I have a list of better places to donate my money to support a cause I truly believe in. I have several friends that think they’re doing good “Racing for a Cure”. Now I can tell them I want to support their efforts via someone other than Komen!!

    In the past, Catholic schools have supported Komen (get out of uniform if you wear pink days)….they didn’t do their research to learn that the company they’re supporting isn’t in line with their cause. What a relief to have someone share this information!!October 4, 2011 – 7:25 pmReplyCancel

  • RooForLife - In Dr Hilgers book “The NaProTechnology Revolution: Unleashing the Power in a Woman’s Cycle” http://www.unleashingthepower.info/ on page 291 it says that there is a 3 fold increase in postmenopausal breast cancer has been observed in women who have polycystic ovaries.

    From an article that was posted on Dr Hilgers website ~
    PCOD …Successful Surgical… NaProTechnology
    A number of women reading this right now might have polycystic ovaries. Polycystic ovaries are present in about 14 percent of otherwise healthy women and full-blown polycystic ovarian disease, or PCOD, afflicts approximately 6 percent of women. While many women who have PCOD do not exhibit any of the common symptoms, frequent indicators of PCOD may include amenorrhea (which is the absence of a menstrual period), obesity, facial hair (also called hirsuitism), and high blood pressure………Having polycystic ovaries puts women at risk for infertility, abnormal cholesterol levels, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, thrombosis, and cancers including endometrial, ovarian and breast cancers……. http://www.drhilgers.com/2009/09/03/news-item-2/
    If anyone has the symtoms of PCOD you can contact a Naprotechnology medical consultant to find out for sure NaProTECHNOLOGY-trained physicians can be found at “Find a Medical Consultant” Section http://www.fertilitycare.org/October 5, 2011 – 12:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Erika - I had added an addendum to the original post. A well-researched comment has proof that MDAnderson *does* use embryonic stem cells in research. As I say in my article (at the bottom w/ the **), when we initially (my mother & I) went to MDAnderson it was our understanding that they did not and would not use ESCs. However, when the federal government (Obama) loosened the restrictions on ESCs, apparently MDAnderson changed their policy.

    I mean exactly what I say when I say I will write them a scathing letter outlining all the reasons (both moral & scientific) that they should not waste their time or donated funds on ESCs. I encourage EVERYONE who opposes this grevious misuse of funds and disrespect of life to do the same. You & I are the *only* way things are going to change. Good people need to stand up for LIFE in all its forms. That sometimes requires stepping outside of your comfort zone, but that is necessary and character building! Join me in my attempt to shut down MD Anderson’s ESC use!October 5, 2011 – 12:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Erika - Here is the contact information for the co-chairs of the Stem Cell Therapy department at MD Anderson.

    http://www.mdanderson.org/education-and-research/departments-programs-and-labs/programs-centers-institutes/center-for-stem-cell-and-developmental-biology/contact-information/center-for-stem-cell-and-developmental-biology-contact-information.html

    WRITE them BOTH letters expressing your disappointment on their ESC stance. You can probably email OR snail mail, but BOTH would probably be most effective. I’m not sure whether we’ll change their policy or not, but we’ll at least be able to make them slightly uncomfortable & possibly cause a crisis of conscience. Be respectful & loving, but above all else, maintain that LIFE from it’s very beginning is the most important right we have!October 5, 2011 – 12:44 pmReplyCancel

  • BirgitJ - Thank you, Erika, both for supplementing your post and for supplying the contact information. As you stated, several years ago MD Anderson responded to letters asking their stance on embryonic stem cell research with their assurance that they did NOT use such cell lines. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that their procedures have changed. I will use your information and join you in writing them a letter – from the standpoint of an almost 7 year survivor of breast cancer, who found her ‘cure’ at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. I am deeply disappointed!October 5, 2011 – 2:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Ellen - Thank you for your knowledge and passion on this topic. Someone is asking me to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and it is not on you list of safe organizations. Would you donate to this one?October 18, 2011 – 1:09 pmReplyCancel

    • Erika - The organization you mention has recently been found to be upright & moral. Thank you!October 18, 2011 – 2:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Michelle - I stumbled across your site by accident…looking for pro-life donation options in lieu of the pro-abort Komen. MANY interesting things on your site in addition to what I was looking for. THANKS for all the hard work you do!!!!August 19, 2015 – 3:41 pmReplyCancel

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