Survivor Story - Cathy

Program recipient, Cathy, shares what Simply Fight! means to her.

In June of 2012, I received a shocking diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer. At age 38, I had found the lump myself while breastfeeding our then 7 month-old daughter. Genetic testing showed I was BRCA 1 positive, so after months of aggressive chemo, a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries soon followed. 

As a mother, the idea of fighting this cancer while trying to maintain some normalcy for our three children was incredibly daunting. Thankfully, during one of my chemo treatments, I heard of Pink Ribbon Girls from another breast cancer survivor. What a blessing!!! Because of their services, I could let go of housecleaning and meal preparation, and instead focus my limited energy on recovery and moments with people I love. What an incredible gift! Knowing our family would enjoy healthful food and our house would be clean gave me such comfort for which I will forever be grateful.

It's my hope that Pink Ribbon Girls can continue to grow and thrive, so their services and support may be available to the growing number of people affected by breast cancer. I held onto the phrase "Simply Fight" throughout my treatments, and continue to be thankful for the opportunity to do that, provided by this amazing organization.



Survivor Story - Gail

Simply Fight! program recipient, Gail, describes her treatment plan and how
Pink Ribbon Girls has helped along the way. 

Gail

I found a lump in my breast, went to the doctor to get a mammogram and talked to the cancer doctor just in case. They took a biopsy and it was positive for Stage III breast cancer. I chose a single mastectomy and had several positive lymph nodes. I started treatment right away and became very sick and needed a lot of help. I have gone through eight rounds of Chemotherapy and 30 treatments of radiation. I had to stop my treatment for a month because I became too ill to take the treatment. 

My social worker at Good Sam North connected my with Pink Ribbon Girls and I have been so grateful ever since that day. I was very sick and there were many days I wouldn't have been able to fix my children a meal without the help of Pink Ribbon Girls. The meals are very delicious and my kids can't wait to go through the box and pick out their favorite.  

I have no idea how I would have gotten to treatment without transportation. It is a blessing to know Suzan will always be on time and I didn't have to cancel any of my treatments because the Pink Ribbon Girls will always be there. I just love Suzan. She is always there for me and I truly appreciate our friendship. I will be so sad when I don't see her anymore.

Thank you so much to the Pink Ribbon Girls. I wouldn't have made it through breast cancer without them. 


Earlier Onset of Puberty in Girls Linked to Obesity

New research in Pediatrics shows obesity is the largest predictor of earlier onset puberty in girls, a phenomenon that is affecting white girls much sooner than previously reported.

Published online Nov. 4, the multi-institutional study strengthens a growing body of research documenting the earlier onset of puberty in girls of all races.

“The impact of earlier maturation in girls has important clinical implications involving psychosocial and biologic outcomes,” said Frank Biro, MD, lead investigator and a physician in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “The current study suggests clinicians may need to redefine the ages for both early and late maturation in girls.”

Girls with earlier maturation are at risk for a multitude of challenges, including lower self-esteem, higher rates of depression, norm-breaking behaviors and lower academic achievement. Early maturation also results in greater risks of obesity, hypertension and several cancers – including breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer.

The study was conducted through the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Program, established by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science. Pediatrics is the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Researchers at centers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cincinnati and New York City examined the ages of 1,239 girls at the onset of breast development and the impact of body mass index and race/ethnicity. The girls ranged in age from 6 to 8 years at enrollment and were followed at regular intervals from 2004 to 2011. Researchers used well-established criteria of pubertal maturation, including the five stages of breast development known as the Tanner Breast Stages.

The girls were followed longitudinally, which involved multiple regular visits for each girl. Researchers said this method provided a good perspective of what happened to each girl and when it occurred.

Researchers found the respective ages at the onset of breast development varied by race, body mass index (obesity), and geographic location. Breast development began in white, non-Hispanic girls, at a median age of 9.7 years, earlier than previously reported. Black girls continue to experience breast development earlier than white girls, at a median age of 8.8 years. The median age for Hispanic girls in the study was 9.3 years, and 9.7 years for Asian girls.

Body mass index was a stronger predictor of earlier puberty than race or ethnicity. Although the research team is still working to confirm the exact environmental and physiological factors behind the phenomenon, they conclude the earlier onset of puberty in white girls is likely caused by greater obesity.

Other institutions collaborating on the study include: Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Oakland, Calif.; Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York; California Department of Public Health and the University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco; and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

Funding support for the study came from: the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute (grant numbers U01ES012770, U01ES012771, U01ES012800, U01ES012801, U01ES019435, U01ES019453, U01ES019454, U01ES019457), with additional support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (P01ES009584, P30ES006096); the National Center for Research Resources (UL1RR024131, UL1RR029887, UL1RR026314); the Molecular Epidemiology in Children’s Environmental Health training grant (T32-ES10957); and the Avon Foundation.

About Cincinnati Children’s
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 Best Children’s Hospitals ranking. It is ranked #1 for cancer and in the top 10 for nine of 10 pediatric specialties. Cincinnati Children’s, a non-profit organization, is one of the top three recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The medical center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at www.cincinnatichildrens.org. Connect on the Cincinnati Children’s blog, via Facebook and on Twitter.

Helping Children Through A Loved One's Cancer Diagnosis

Rachel McCoy, director of Children's Services at Cancer Family Care in Cincinnati, shares her professional expertise in guiding a child through a loved one's cancer diagnosis. Pink Ribbon Girls provides women and their families with children tangible support through our Simply Fight! program.

As a therapist at Cancer Family Care, I’m often tasked with the opportunity of talking with recently diagnosed cancer patients on the topic of how to help children. A cancer diagnosis impacts the entire family, and it can be difficult to know what to do or say that can most effectively help kids cope with this type of situation. 

Over the past 6 years of working with families in these situations, I’ve found a few common threads that seem to appear within each of these varying situations. Diagnoses, treatment regimens, and family dynamics all impact these situations differently, but there is some common ground to be found. 
 
First, consider the age of the child. Childhood development plays a critical role in how a child will process a cancer diagnosis in the family. This will impact not only how much and what type of information to share, but how to tailor your support to each child in a family unit. A five year old will process a cancer diagnosis much differently than a ten year old. Keeping these aspects of development in mind are very useful when talking to a child about cancer. 

Second, use the word cancer. Children understand that people get sick, often because they themselves have been sick before. Calling it a “boo-boo” or a lump or a bump is too ambiguous a term for a cancer diagnosis, and can confuse a child about what is actually going on. Treating cancer is often more complicated that a cold or a “boo-boo” that a child has experienced before, therefore it’s important to use the actual word cancer so that the child is not confused about the illness itself. Many think that using the word cancer will scare a child and cause them anxiety. I find that the opposite is actually true; when children are given the real name for the disease it lessens the mystery of what’s going on at home and enables them to process it in a more helpful and cohesive way. 

Third, anticipate changes in the household and communicate them with the children. Normal routines and rhythms of life are often interrupted because of a parent’s cancer diagnosis. Many times the person that’s in charge of theschedule and executing the routine needs to rest or recover and is not available as they usually are. It’s important for kids to know when to expect changes in their routine, and how they will be impacted as a result. Even though mommy or daddy is sick, kids often still want to know how they will get to school or soccer practice; they want to know how their lives will be impacted, not just the patient’s. If the person with cancer is going to be hospitalized for a period of time, let the children know when that will happen and who will be there to take care of them. If someone different is going to be picking them up from school that day, giving them a heads up about that change in routine ahead of time is very helpful to kids. 

Children are incredibly resilient creatures that if given the chance, can often teach adults about how to handle difficult aspects of life. Cancer is no different. Given the proper support and opportunities for expression, children can often handle a cancer diagnosis in the family in ways that will surprise most of us. Each child will handle this crisis in the family differently, and it’s always important to keep that in mind. What works for one does not always work for another. Allow children to teach you how they best want to cope on this journey. 

If you’d like more information about helping children through a loved one’s cancer diagnosis, feel free to contact us at Cancer Family Care, at 513-731-3346 or at www.cancerfamilycare.org.

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