fbpx
75.1 F
Boca Raton
Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Gift Yourself a Mammogram this Holiday Season

My October mammogram has been done. Thanksgiving has come and gone.  December has arrived.  It is officially the “season of giving”. Like many of you, I have spent countless hours making lists and scouring the internet for that “perfect gift” and supporting local businesses and nonprofits. To be honest, I see the Amazon delivery person sometimes more than I see my friends and neighbors these days.

Schedule Your Mammogram

While we are discussing giving and celebrating, let’s all remember that we cannot take care of others unless we take care of ourselves.  Step one in self-care is maintaining good health. For many women, this includes annual mammograms.  This diagnostic test helps identify breast cancer; early detection is key to effective treatment and survival. (PS…keep scrolling for the dynamic podcast interview I did with Kym Foust, who is currently in remission.)

The Breast Center Where I Had My Mammogram
The Breast Center

Getting My Mammogram

In October, I shared my experience with The Breast Center at West Boca Medical Center. To be honest, I’m STILL talking about it.  I was so impressed with the facility, the technology and professionalism of everyone there.  They offer basic screening and 3D imaging to their patients; the most sensitive and advanced technology available.

Breast Cancer Awareness All Year Long

In November I was thrilled to interview Kym Foust, a mom and teacher in Parkland. She kindly shares what her journey has been going through breast cancer and her treatment. We have some helpful tips today that we think might help you, especially during the holiday season.

Since #SoooBoca is doing a collaboration with West Boca Medical Center and The Breast Center, and Kym had her treatments and surgeries through West Boca Medical Center, check out this interview that she did for them, we thought it would be great to do an interview with Kym on #SoooBoca Stories Podcast Episode #44. You definitely want to catch this conversation especially in regard to “cancer ghosting. 

The Breast Center Waiting Room
The Breast Center Waiting Room

Gift Yourself

So this year, put your name at the top of your holiday list and give yourself the gift of a mammogram.  Honestly, taking care of yourself is the greatest gift you can give to those you love. So, contact The Breast Center at West Boca Medical Center today and schedule an appointment before year-end!  

Kym’s Interview – #SoooBoca Stories Episode #44

Kym Foust

In August of 2019, I found a lump during a self exam and I wasn’t super good at doing them diligently, but I had just had, I just got checked out the previous January, got an all clear, but something just wasn’t right. And I had previously had cysts, but this one felt much different and it just had kind of a gut feeling that things weren’t right. So West Boca Medical Center hooked me up with a mammogram and an ultrasound, and right then and there, before I even left, they came in and said, it looks suspicious. We need you to come in for a biopsy tomorrow morning. 

So there was no waiting. There was no delay. I went in for a biopsy and two days later, I got the call that it was indeed cancer. At  that point, that’s all they tell you. It’s cancer and you have an appointment Monday morning and we’ll talk to you more in depth. 

I met with my surgeon, Dr. Dudeck from West Boca on the following Monday and she proceeded to introduce me to the whole team. There’s a lot of anxiety with what’s going to happen. You know, the mortality questions come up, but the minute you sit down with your team and they tell you, this is how we’re going to attack this. Everything starts to fall into place and you feel better.

And it sounds weird to hear that when you find out you’re going to have chemo and radiation and surgery, and then another year of chemo and then meds for 10 years, that it’s calming. But it honestly is.

Once you have a game plan and the ball starts rolling, you feel a lot more calm because you feel like you’re doing something proactive. So that’s everything we did. And right now I’m in the final stages of the year of proactive chemo. And I’ll have that until April.

Michele Bellisari  

I’m so happy to hear that you had this amazing team that took care of you and that it sounds like you’re on the mend and on the right path. I think it’s important for anyone listening to this, to know that you can have a team of people that will inform and educate you and help with that anxiety because let’s face it, it’s stressful and scary.

Kym Foust 

It’s terrifying. I had an oncologist, a radiologist and a surgeon, but I also had a nutritionist and a psychologist and their oncology specialized. So they took care of me from head to toe, mentally, physically. I never felt like I was alone. I always have somebody on call, no matter what stage of the game it is. If it’s a weekend, if it’s at night, if a side effect popped up, they prepped me really well at West Boca.”

Michele Bellisari 

That’s fantastic. And you bring up something really important. They prepped you.

Kym Foust 

Yes. Nothing was a shock. They sit you down in a nice little room with couches and they tell you, okay, chemo is about to start. Here’s what could happen. Here’s what’s likely to happen. Here’s the slight chance that these side effects could happen. And here’s what you’re going to have on your bathroom counter to handle all of it. And you’re going to call me if it gets to this stage and it doesn’t matter if it’s 3:00 AM, you’re going to call the office. If a fever of this high happens and nothing was a surprise. I felt so well prepared for all of it. And that was huge.

Michele Bellisari 

That is huge because, I would think that would be for anyone, a huge concern of the not knowing and then the what ifs. And I know just in general with any potential medical issue, when you have a better handle on all of those, you go into whatever it might be surgery, treatment, whatever, with a clearer head.

Kym Foust 

Absolutely.  I have some side effects right now from radiation that I had in the summer and. I’m developing some fibrosis and some lymphedema, but I knew that I had a 50 50 shot of it happening a couple months after radiation. So when it did pop up, I knew what the signs were and I called them and we’re already treating it early and it wasn’t a shock.

Michele Bellisari

That’s great! So one of the things that you and I were talking about before we jumped on here to do this interview was what’s happening over the holidays and how we can share some tips from you in regard to a few different things in regard to how can family and friends can be helpful and caring. 

What should they say and not say, what kind of gifts would you get someone who’s in treatment going through treatment post-treatment. Things that are going to be helpful to that person. And we are also going to talk about the fact that ghosting happens frequently. We chatted a little bit about that. So I’m going to start off with, one of the things that you mentioned which is how to help someone emotionally and practically during the holidays, right?

Kym Foust 

A lot of us, myself included were type A control freaks, and the fact that we can’t do everything by ourselves anymore is super frustrating. So you can volunteer to help and make it specific. Don’t leave it open-ended, like call me if you need me, because they won’t call you to volunteer to help. If you know, they need presents wrapped or, you know, need shopping, done, ask what traditions they like to prioritize and help make that happen. 

Specifically…I want to go do the drive through lights, but I know I can’t drive at night anymore because chemo is kind of sapping my eyesight. So that’s something I’ll be outsourcing to a family member. I can’t move as fast as I used to putting up decorations and it’s taking me three times as long because I have some joint mobility issues from chemo and it’s super frustrating. 

Let them know that you’re here to help, even if they’re too stubborn to ask. Also, cut them some slack because we have last-minute appointments that get thrown at us. Or sometimes we just have a bad day that we weren’t expecting. Let’s let them know that that’s okay. Let them know that there are continued limitations even after treatment. Cause sometimes it goes even longer and that it’s okay. 

Michele Bellisari

I think that’s going to help a lot of people out because sometimes it’s just a matter of, you don’t know as the patient, as the person going through all this, really how to say this to someone and you just laid it out beautifully for someone to just copy and paste. 

First of all…I freaking hate putting up decorations anyways. So the other thing is, you did mention like some continued limitations that linger after a harder treatment is done and do you think that what happens is, I don’t know if this is the right way to say this, that people want you to get better so badly that once you’ve finished that final treatment, that they think you’re not going to need as much help?

Kym Foust 

Definitely a hundred percent yes! Because you start to look normal and the hair comes in and you don’t look so gaunt anymore. And you personally are usually sharing with those people

you have a countdown in your head for when you expect to start feeling normal and that doesn’t happen and you may be through surgery and you may be dying or I’m labeled NEB, which has no evidence of disease, which means you’re all clear. You’re still going to feel pretty gross. Even once this chemo that I’m in now, which is called the quote, easy chemo, I’m expected to still have some joint pain and some memory stuff for months or even a year afterwards. And that’s just, you don’t realize that it’s happening and there’s lots of side effects that linger or worsen. And one time I asked a nurse why no one talks about that. And she said, it’s likely that the doctors sometimes downplay it to ensure that we aren’t too scared off from finishing treatment.

Michele Bellisari 

Okay. Well I get that but at the end of the day, I think it’s important for everyone to know whatever it is.

Kym Foust 

A hundred percent. Yeah. I’d rather, they be brutally honest with me and just listen, there’s going to suck for a year and you’re going to be okay.

Michele Bellisari 

Yes.  And like you, you know, kind of disseminate like, okay, I can deal with this today. I’ll deal with this thought process tomorrow kind of thing.

Kym Foust 

And it’s actually, there’s, there’s silver linings because there were days before I had cancer where I’d lay on the couch from the time I got home from school until it’s time to go to bed. And now I take advantage of my good days and I’m not going to stop moving on those good days because I’m so happy to have them. The motivation is really like, it gives you a little boost of motivation because you don’t know when the next good day is going to come. So you get it all done on your good days.

Michele Bellisari 

So you take advantage of that, which allows you to do a little bit of planning, but not over-planning.

Kym Foust

Which I always do. I’m sitting here telling you, you shouldn’t,

Michele Bellisari

I’m a Type A person too. So I totally get that.

Kym Foust 

My to-do list is never ending. It’s just perpetual. And I took the date off the top.

Michele Bellisari

There you go. So one of the other things that we were talking about, what is helpful to say and not to say? So what are some tips that you can give about what to say and not to say to someone

Kym Foust 

The not to say, and we talk about this frequently in my support group is the keep fighting to keep fighting, to keep fighting it’s instinctual. And I certainly said it to my friends that were diagnosed before I had it. 

It’s it’s not inherently wrong to say, but the thing is, we’re not really fighting so much as we have to surrender, we have to give up control of everything. Sometimes we have to give up all physical control. We’re constantly just like laying out on tables for people. 

We have no control over anything. So it’s not necessarily a case of you just have to fight because it’s not really a fighting kind of thing. It’s more like you have to surrender until this is over and admit the fact that you don’t really own your body right now until it’s fixed.

Michele Bellisari 

Right.

Kym Foust 

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. It’s not wrong to do the warrior talk and the fighter talk, but sometimes it does get to be a little much. So if you’re close to them, you don’t have to toss those lines out. Just say I know this stinks and you can talk to me and I’m here and if you just want to vent or if you don’t want to talk about cancer today and you want to talk about politics or reality TV, let’s do that. Cause sometimes we’re sick of talking about it.

Michele Bellisari

Yeah. I totally get that actually. And I have friends who’ve gone through breast cancer and you know, and other types of cancer and you know that I’m kind of a straight shooter when it comes to this stuff as well. And I will say, if you don’t and you can insert whatever bad word you want here, if you don’t want to talk about cancer today, that’s fine. What do you want to talk about?

Kym Foust

Yeah, yeah, yeah. See how I am. And then let’s gossip.

Michele Bellisasri 

Yeah, exactly. All about the real Housewives. Cause it’s a hot mess. That’s a dumpster fire. Every time you watch a show,

Kym Foust 

Salt Lake city just started. We need to talk about salt Lake city. Like I don’t want to talk about cancer anymore

Michele Bellisari

I haven’t watched it because I’m such a fan of the original Orange County one. It’s so crazy. I’ve heard, I’ve been watching like some of the stuff I’m like, Oh boy, here we go. 

So now we’re coming into the holiday season. One of the things that I guess would be, I think a good thing to emphasize is the gift of self care for yourself. Get your mammograms, get your sonograms, get your checkups, go to your GYN, have your annuals, like have this stuff done, ladies and gents because you can’t push this off all the time and not make time for it. So that’s obviously your health is something you want to focus on.

What kind of gifts would you recommend beyond the list every internet site suggests. And I’m like, Oh my God, I love this girl. She’s so funny and you’re right. It’s like the same thing over and over. So I’d love to hear what you, I can only imagine what Kym has to say!

Kym Foust 

So we get lots and lots of blankets, water bottles, socks, and coloring books. Those are the ones that must show up in the web searches constantly. I probably have 30 coloring books and those are great. I use them all, all of those came in really handy. 

You need blankets because the chemo rooms are freezing cold. They keep them cold. You need non-slip socks because they’re good for hospital floors and you don’t want to wear theirs cause they’re weird and gross. Water bottles are great, but try to avoid the metal ones because they make the water taste awful because chemo frequently just completely jacks up your taste buds and it makes the water taste like poison. The number one thing that you can do for a cancer family for gifts is gift certificates for restaurant delivery. They were an absolute lifesaver. I can’t even tell you they were the new meal train.

My brother-in-law actually set up a little virtual meal train because we don’t have any family in Florida and the Grub Hub and the Postmate gift cards came in and I was like, Oh, I’ll be able to cook. It’s fine. These things were a godsend. It was such an incredible help because we had such a huge variety to choose from. If I was having a day where it was just soup and Gatorade and like pills, I knew I didn’t have to worry about feeding the rest of the family. My kid was going to be okay, like everyone was going to eat, everyone’s going to be happy out there enjoying their Chinese. 

And it was a nice distraction from having to worry about all the daily stuff. They could just get some burgers delivered or a deli tray delivered and it was an absolute Godsend. And we had enough that kept us going through  six hard sessions of chemo and we had enough gift cards to go all the way through. So if you know, somebody that’s recently diagnosed, set up an online meal, train for them on one of the websites and just share it and let people send virtual gift cards to them.

Michele Bellisari

Okay. I love that idea and I love that regardless, but I think that’s the way to go right now anyways, because nobody wants contact because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, which is another thing that we actually didn’t really talk about. But that’s a big concern right now. I mean, if it’s because your immune system is already compromised and then it’s like we know cancer affects the entire family. My parents had lung cancer. So we went through that with them, but we were adult children. So when you have younger kids and family members who are now living at home, that might not have been now, it becomes who are they around? 

Kym Foust

Right. And a hundred percent. 

Yes. My surgery I did at the tail end of my hard chemo was right when COVID was beginning. And my surgery was scheduled for March 31st and it was canceled three times because that’s when they were canceling everything in the hospitals and my surgeon, she went to bat and she was like, she has to get in, like, we have to just get this done, we cannot put this off. And I was in surgery. 

I was the only one in the surgical unit that day. And as soon as I woke up, they put my socks on, handed me juice, and put me in the car by myself. But I mean, the way they handled it was just beautiful. I never felt alone. There was always a nurse there. They were holding my hand. Even when I woke up, I had my mask on. It was terrifying, but they handled it so well.

Michele Bellisari 

That’s is actually so good to know because even now, there’s going to be circumstances where you’re going in alone. And as of this recording, we know that cases are going up again. So that does affect when surgeries are happening and how they’re happening and who has priority. Great that your surgeon went to bat for you and saying, let’s get this done. Especially since this was your last surgery.

Kym Foust

Yout have to do radiation by yourself. But they, even the way that they handled radiation, you stay in your car, they call you and you are the only patient in the entire unit. You’re in there for eight minutes. And then you walk out an opposite door. Everything was so smooth. It was great.

Michele Bellisari

I’ve always been a fan of West Boca Medical Center. I don’t know if you knew this, but my oldest daughter is 30, was born at the WBMC at the birthing pavilion there when they first opened. We like the hospital and the surgeons there. For knees and shoulders and stupid crap that happens, we tend to be out there, believe it or not. Kylie was born there, so I’ve always really liked it and my mother went through chemotherapy out there. So we’ve, we’ve always thought it was just an amazing facility and we’re lucky that we have it here in Boca. 

Kym, are there any last things you want to share with my audience today? This is going to be on social media, SoooBoca Instagram, Facebook, YouTube along with iTunes and podcast platforms. I share it out everywhere. Anything else you can share as your tips have been fabulous.

Kym Foust

This one might not be so practical, but lets maybe touch on the cancer ghosting, which people know is a thing.It definitely happened. And it was a shock. And for people that don’t know cancer ghosting is when you basically lose your friends. When you get diagnosed, it’s the same as ghosting that happens with dating except you have cancer and they get you. And I remember reading once that it happens to 65% of us, but according to what I hear in my support group, it’s way more. 

I assume it was just, it’s seeing me change so quickly and drastically was probably really like an in your face reminder of their own mortality as wives and moms. And that’s hard, I get it. But if you can’t handle seeing them, and obviously you’re not seeing them much right now, shoot them a text once in a while, something you don’t always have to talk about the cancer. Cause we’re still us inside. 

We’re still your friend and relative. The ghosting is so painful that you just, I understand that it comes from a place that isn’t malicious, but it’s just kind of like the icing on the terrible cake of here’s the diagnosis, where are my friends? But on the flip side, it showed me who had my back through thick and thin. And there were friends that I haven’t talked to in years that still check in on me weekly. And I have a friend that sends me a little XOXO text on the days when she knows that I’m going to feel like garbage after treatment. That’s all it takes. She’s not expecting anything back. She’s letting me know she’s there. And if it’s hard for you, just do stuff like that, send them a meme, send them a cute picture, send them a joke, just let them know that you’re around.

Michele Bellisari 

Yeah. I agree with you. And it is super easy today with social media and texting so no excuses people! Just send a Facebook message. You can do snail mail if you don’t even want to have a back and forth. They’re very funny cards by the way. 

Kym Foust 

Snail mail is my favorite! I have a drawer full of cards and I’ve saved all of them. They’re hilarious. I love it. I love getting snail mail and people just like asked for my address randomly and I’ll give it to them. Then I’ll get a cute little postcard with an, a little obscene joke. I love it.

Michele Bellisari 

Yeah. There you go. I made a sock puppet for a friend. And I remember sending it through the mail cause it wasn’t big and she loved it. 

Oh, one other thing I was going to ask you since we are like, in this season, is there, would it be helpful if, you know, let’s say under normal circumstances because the gatherings right now are going to be vastly different, but under normal circumstances, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, lots of different things going on…How do you feel about telling a hostess you have some food preferences due to your lack of taste or that foods taste funny? 

Kym Foust  

I think it’s even in circumstances with allergies or something would fall in the same category where I think it’s completely reasonable to say, hey, I’m kind of high maintenance on the taste buds and the appetite, is it okay if I bring XYZ so that you don’t have to go to the trouble of doing anything special for me. Nine times out of 10, they’re going to say, oh, I’ll make you this. I think it’s perfectly reasonable because otherwise you’re sitting there, and everybody’s questioning why you’re not eating and

Michele Bellisari

Lastly, I’m just going to ask you, you mentioned a few times that you have an amazing support group. Is this something that West Boca Medical Center helped you coordinate?

Kym Foust 

No, actually it’s on Facebook. There is a support group that was run through my team, but they’re not meeting through the COVID stuff but some of them are actually in the Facebook group. My team set me up with a mentor who had the exact same type of diagnosis I did. So before chemo started and before surgery, I was able to kind of hit her up and say, what do I expect? And she gave me like the nitty gritty of okay, here’s how this is going to feel. And here’s how I handle it. And they, I didn’t even ask for that. They matched me up based on our personalities. It was great. So she’s a mom and she’s local and she has some of the same hobbies I do and we’re both really politically active. And so that was an amazing help in the beginning.

Michele Bellisari 

That’s really cool. And since we’re in South Florida, lets talk about the heat. I am menopausal so the heat can be a bit of a problem sometimes. I keep my house freezing.  I would imagine that when you’re going through treatment and then post-treatment the heat bother you. Are there certain things you love to do but it’s just too much to be outside?

Kym Foust 

It’s been a weird rollercoaster because I have what’s called triple positive breast cancer, which means that it’s receptive to three different types of hormones and they needed to put me in like a rapid onset chemical on menopause. So that came right away and basically menopause squished into a couple months. So those hot flashes were something. And luckily that happened last winter, when at least we got a little bit of a cold snap, but yet it was the night sweats and they were crazy. It was, it was nutty. 

But then when you start radiation, everything flips and it was actually nice. I could go for a walk in the summer and it was, I wasn’t even sweaty and I can’t stand the heat. And now it’s flipping back again cause I’m done with radiation. So you have no internal temperature regulator whatsoever. The key is just layers, go to bed and layers, have a layer at the bottom of the bed, have a cardigan on the couch, wear a tank top. If you just go with layers and I’m originally from Ohio. So I’m into the layers. This is ingrained in me so I constantly just have easily added and removable layers.

Michele Bellisari

So we’re big Buckeye fans. Both my brother-in-laws played for Ohio state. We love Columbus and Ohio. And it’s funny though, because we were up in Ohio about a year ago, speaking of hot flashes and you know, sometimes that’s a whole other conversation to have with a partner, spouse or significant other as to why you want the AC at 70 degrees. And I finally got so ticked off. I sent an email to my husband and I said, this is no joke. Like this is serious. And you gotta like keep the window open with that cool breeze. So, you know, it was beautiful, cool, weather!  Like, grab a blanket. It’s these conversations that you have to have regardless.

Kym Foust 

Now that we’re all home in the same house too. So what we did was we had to shut the vents off, like the home office so that I could crank the air, but his feels like the beach. So we just, we adjust exactly. We have separate blankets on the bed now. 

Michele Bellisari

With that being said, I enjoyed this conversation today and I appreciate the fact that you have been so open and sharing with your journey and look at the end of the day, you know, self care, self checking, getting these mammograms and ultrasounds are so, so important to all of us. And don’t put it off, especially like this is dropping towards the end of the year, go in, make your appointments now.

Kym Foust

Right. A hundred percent. Like I said, I had an all clear exam in January of 2019. In August. I was Stage 2. Like really aggressive. 

Michele Bellisari

 If anybody would want to reach out to you how would they be able to do that? 

Kym Foust

I could give you my email. I’d be happy to field some emails. It’s KymdotFaustatgmaildotcom 

Michele Bellisari

Awesome!

Kym Faust 

And I never tired of talking so I can answer any question

Wrap Up

This was fantastic. And I so appreciate that you joined us today and that you again were very open and sharing, and I think these are absolutely things that are going to help everyone who’s in that journey with a patient. So thank you.

Thank you for being #SoooBoca Stories Podcast today, and we will see everyone next week every day. If you’d like to be considered for an interview or would like to sponsor the show and blog, please feel free to reach out to me. 

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow #SoooBoca

1,648FansLike
10,353FollowersFollow
1,216FollowersFollow
2,045FollowersFollow
1,972FollowersFollow
782SubscribersSubscribe

Latest Articles