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Monday, October 1, 2012

Manly Reminder for Breast Exam

Breast Cancer Exam Reminder App

Have you seen this before? Did you watch it twice and forward it to your girlfriends?
"Let this hot guy show you how to give your breasts some TLC.  Download the app for free today. For more info, visit"

Seriously though, I do this once a year (or so) at mmy annual checkup with the female family doctor. I still try hard not to grimace or giggle when she does the pat down, but it is a fairly serious matter in my family.  I'd like to take a moment to think about the survivors in my family as models of strength to look up to.


My grandmother who is now 97 years old was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 40's and decided to do a single mastectomy. The cancer never returned and I only knew about this when I was a much older teenager when my mom and I had to go to a store to pick up a special insert for her bra. She is a remarkably sharp old lady with many amazing stories about other dangers she had survived in the past like the rise of Communism in China, the escape to Hong Kong, and even the invasion of   the Japanese in WWII.

My favorite aunt who runs a flourishing Kindergarten School in a small town in Cambodia, also survived breast cancer. Five years ago she had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, but if you met her now you probably would not even know it.  I completely missed the year she returned to Canada for the treatment and recovery, but I think her inspiring faith and supportive family and friends really made things work. I remember her giving me a warm hug when I came to visit with my first child, and I was shocked by the embrace without bosoms and so I held back, but she reassured me that it was OK.


I see this proliferation of pink everywhere - Think Pink, Pink Ribbon Campaign, Run for the Cure or Walk, Run Ride for Women's Cancer. I don't own too many pink items myself, though I have been induced to "buy pink" when certain products are marketed for supporting breast cancer research. Below is the prettiest pink scarf similar to the one from Stella and Dot for eye candy.

Wendy's Lookbook
I haven't done a run to support breast cancer but I do sponsor my friends who sign up.  I was also inspired by friend who holds an annual fundraiser Yard Sale by collecting free donations for items from friends and colleagues at work.  That same year, I held my own garage sale and pledged to donate half of the profits. Worked out well because that was enough to cover my $50 sponsorship for my friends team, and pay for a $100 spot on a "Scrap for the Cure" event - full day of scrapbooking.  What will you do to support Breast Cancer Awareness this year?

A large portion of money from fundraising goes to Cancer Research. I have first hand experience working in a cancer research lab for my Grade 12 Science Fair Project years ago.  My classmate and I had the rare opportunity to work with a leading cancer researcher at the University of Calgary who also provided us with the lab space, materials and a grad student to mentor us on the project - to discover the synergistic effects of combined chemotherapy drug for the treatment of metastasis.  We learned many important techniques about the science of DNA, including PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) to replicate a large quantity of cancer cell DNA from a very small sample, gel electrophoresis and even radioactive tagging and gene insertion (I believe the grad student did this last part).  The goal was to isolate the MMP - matrix metaloproteinase enzyme to halt metastasis, the spread of cancer. We nuked cancerous and healthy mouse cells with various dilutions of four common cancer treatment drugs individually and in combination dosages. We were selected among the top 5 Science Fair Projects to represent our city at the Canada Wide Science Fair in Whitehorse, Yukon that year.

There are alot of fancy words and precise terminologies that I have since forgotten. One thing for certain neither of us were destined to be cancer researchers. My colleague had accidentally stabbed his hand with a pipette loaded with Methotrexate (or whatever) and the white powder in the latex glove immediately turned black. We were so freaked out we never told anyone about it (until now). Anywayz years later, we both graduated from Engineering; he even competed as a Canadian contestant on Jeopardy! and is now married with two or three kids. However that incident is probably the only thing I remember most vividly about this big science experiment, and the biggest reason that I decided not to be a Cancer Researcher.

Remember to download that App!

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