Tag Archive | "cancer"

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Therapeutic Tattoos

Posted on 15 August 2019 by LeslieM

Tattoos have exploded in popularity over the past decade and have become an artistic way for people to express themselves. What do tattoos mean? Before we address the meaning of various tattoos, let’s take a brief look at the history of tattoos.

We can go back almost 12,000 years where tools for tattooing were found in France, Portugal and Scandinavia. The oldest surviving tattoos were found on a mummy in the Otzi Valley in the Alps from the fifth to fourth millennium BC. Ancient Egypt and India used tattoos as methods of religious worship and healing. Ancient Romans, Greeks and Chinese tattooed their slaves and criminals to be able to identify them if they escaped.

The Jewish world has a longstanding aversion to tattoos. The taboo against body ink remains powerful among largely secular Jews. The objection relates to Leviticus 19.28 “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourself.” Some liberal Jews have taken a fresh look at tattoos, but many still overwhelmingly see tattoos as inconsistent with the teachings of Jewish tradition.

Most people get tattoos to tell a story, to highlight pain, triumph and obstacles they have faced in their lives. Tattoos can also be therapeutic to some. Below are a few types of therapeutic tattoos:

Mastectomy Tattoo Movement: Following Breast Cancer treatment, some women opt to get artistic tattoos to cover mastectomy scars and to reclaim their bodies. An organization P.ink (Personal ink) refers Breast Cancer survivors to tattoo artists with mastectomy tattoo experience.

Recovery from Addiction Tattoo: It takes amazing strength to address and recover from addiction. It helps to have motivational reminders to stay on track, and a tattoo can inspire and celebrate recovery. A patient of mine has “one day at a time” tattooed on the inside of her wrist. If she feels anxious, she reads her tattoo and that reminds her to slow down, breath, realize she can make it through today sober and contact her sponsor for support.

Memorializing a Loss Tattoo: Sarah, a former psychotherapy patient of mine lost her father to suicide. Sarah had a tattoo behind her left ear — a semicolon. She explained that she searched for a tattoo that would honor her father and increase awareness of mental health problems. She stumbled upon “Project Semicolon.” This organization is dedicated to preventing suicide. Sarah has taken a positive step in her healing process and told me she likes to talk to others who have experienced devastating loss in their lives and wants to promote positive ways to discuss mental health issues.

A 60-year-old female patient told me that for years she thought anyone getting a tattoo did not realize the consequences, such as not liking it after a few years, and the time and pain involved to have it removed. Then, she pointed out a hummingbird tattoo on her right shoulder. She decided to get this tattoo because it represented her daughter who had died of Brain Cancer. This tattoo brought her peace. Here was a woman who was anti-tattoos for years and, at the age of 60, decided there was a very good reason, the memory of her daughter, to get a tattoo. Yes, change is possible!

Dr. Julia Breur is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton. For more information, call 561-512-8545, e-mail info@drjuliabreur.com or visit www.drjuliabreur.com.

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Cancer Grads Share their stories

Posted on 14 October 2016 by LeslieM

grads101316By Rachel Galvin

Cancer comrades Aniela McGuinness and Nora McMahon didn’t resonate with the idea of being a “survivor” of Cancer. In an effort to find a term that better fit how they felt, they chose Cancer Grad and their website www.CancerGrad.org was born. Aniela, who made it through Breast Cancer, and Nora, who went through Ovarian Cancer share their stories and give important information on their site.


Before this, Aniela recorded the entire process of her Cancer from the very beginning on her YouTube site – MyBreastChoice. Her mother had Breast Cancer at age 46, and at 63 she died from Ovarian Cancer. She had the BRCA1 gene mutation so Aniela decided to get tested too and, at 25, found out that she also had it. With that knowledge, she got checked every six months with a Mammogram and then a breast MRI with the plan of getting her breasts and ovaries removed by 35 (much like Angelina Jolie).

Being a model and actress, and always wanting to educate people, she decided to document her journey as she planned to have her operations performed. While filming one of her episodes of My Breast Choice, she discovered “live” on camera that she actually had Breast Cancer (Stage 1). That was two years ago on Sept. 30. She was 31 years old. The raw video is heartbreaking to watch.

The story of her diagnosis, the procedures that followed and her rollercoaster of emotions was written down and transformed (with the help of co-director/ director Tony Rivera) into a one woman show called I Don’t Have Cancer, which she performed in several locations, including Boca Raton.

She shared every step of the process through her videos, including waking up after surgery, discovering fashions that are more comfortable after surgery and how to make her own drain bag holder. She talks straight about the process, the ups and downs, what worked and didn’t work for her, and how she conquered Cancer with laughter and love.

Aniela had a skin-sparing double mastectomy and 12 sessions of chemotherapy (four sessions of Adriamycin/Cytoxan and nine session of Taxol). She didn’t have to do radiation because she chose to give up her nipples. Afterward, she decided to get a complete hysterectomy as well, just in case.

My doctors and I chose a very extreme course of action. Most people would do much less, but with my age and family history I didn’t want to risk it,” she said.

You might recognize Aniela. She is in the Autonation, Think Pink, commercial, which is currently running on TV.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Now is the time to go get a mammogram!


Prior to her cancer diagnosis, Nora was very active. She was a three-time marathon finisher and raised money for organizations like the American Cancer Society, Alex’s Lemonade Stand and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s oncology department. She was a semi-professional dancer, held a green cord in capoeira, and participated in sports like track and field, volleyball, swimming, softball and basketball, and others.

Then, at 39, she started noticing symptoms. She was tired all the time. She blamed it on her new job. Her lower abdomen felt bloated with pressure and she was constantly running to the bathroom. Eventually, she got it checked out and the doctor noticed something was wrong. She had two ultrasounds – a regular and a vaginal ultrasound and found she had two large masses. One was the size of a grapefruit. The other was the size of a volleyball. When she had major surgery to have them removed, they discovered she had Stage 1C3 Ovarian Cancer. Luckily, it was still confined to the ovaries. She underwent four months of chemotherapy.

Pap Smears do not detect Ovarian Cancer,” she said, encouraging people to get a CA-125 blood test, which is part of the process toward diagnosis.

She lists some of the risk factors for getting Ovarian Cancer as women who have never had children, never have used oral contraception, have had children after the age of 30, have the BRCA1 gene, or have had certain other types of cancer and medical issues. Nora thinks her risk factor may have been from her having Endometriosis. Her mother also dealt with Cancer in her eye. She knows there is always a chance the Cancer could come back.

She suggests visiting www.ovariancancer.org for additional information, as well as looking at www.Gilda’sClubSouthFlorida.org. Gilda Radner, an actress and comedienne known from Saturday Night Live, lost her battle with Ovarian Cancer in 1989. September was Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Check out Cancer Grad to see more about these two inspiring and strong women and find out more information about their journies. Visit www.CancerGrad.org or email them with any questions at info@cancergrad.org.

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Posted on 27 October 2011 by LeslieM

Saturday, Oct. 22, 9 a.m.

Photos by Diane Emeott

See more in 10-27 Observer newspaper.

Video soon on ObserverTV

More than 10,000 came out to Mizner Park in Boca Raton early Saturday morning, Oct. 22, to walk the 2.5-mile course along the newly completed Palmetto Park Promenade in an effort to combat cancer.

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Posted on 07 October 2011 by LeslieM

Pink fire engines and pink patrol cars will be the center of attention as they parade through Deerfield Beach this Sunday for the Broward Sheriff’s Office Pink Heals Tour 2011, raising awareness and funds for cancer charities.

The Pink Heals Tour was first brought to Broward County in 2010 by firefighters from then-Deerfield Beach Fire Rescue (now, proudly part of the Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue family). In continuing this tradition, BSFR, the International Association of Firefighters Local 4321 and the city of Deerfield Beach have planned a day-long, family fun event that, in addition to the parade, includes free entertainment, health screenings, food for purchase by local vendors and a survivor celebration.

Riding in the parade will be Sheriff Al Lamberti, along with BIG 105.9’s Paul Castronovo and his wife Gina, a cancer survivor, and Deerfield Beach elected officials. The parade will depart Quiet Waters Park at 11:30 a.m. and proceed north on Powerline Road, east on Hillsboro Boulevard and travel along the beach to the main beach parking lot located in front of BSFR Station 75 at South Ocean Way and Southeast First Street. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 12:30 p.m. followed by a fire truck pull, Police Athletic League boxing match from 1 – 3 p.m. (tickets for the match are $15 to benefit the Children’s Cancer Caring Center) and a free concert from entertainer Amber Leigh at 2 p.m. Luminaries on the beach honoring cancer survivors and victims at 7 p.m. will close the event.

There will also be fire rescue and law enforcement equipment displays and demonstrations, a car show, kids play area with bounce house and other family-oriented events.  For more information on the Pink Heals Tour 2011, visit www.pinkhealsdb.com or www.pinkfiretrucks.org.


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2011 Relay for Life Wrap-Up Party Tuesday June 21

Posted on 20 June 2011 by LeslieM

Join the Relay teams as they wrap up the 2011 Relay For Life. Committee Members, Team Captains and Members, Survivors . . . everyone is invited. There will be food, cash bar, fun, awards, and prizes (lots of prizes) as we look back on 2011 and forward to 2012.

Tuesday, June 21st , 7 – 9 PM
Hilton of Deerfield Beach (Hillsboro and I-95)
Hilton is kindly donating the light hors d’oeuvres and room for us, so we would appreciate an RSVP to TJ – tjego2@aol.com,
Gordon – printingxcetera@aol.com, or Nona – nonabreit@gmail.com

Be sure to bring any monies you have not yet turned in and register your team for next year

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