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Framingham Survivor Turns Advocate

After fighting and surviving two breast cancer diagnoses, Framingham resident Karen Horowitz has spent the last nine years dedicating herself to advocating for patients levitra online cheap and survivors.

Horowitz faced her first diagnosis in 1998 when she was 45 and was diagnosed again five years later after a checkup.

“With all the drugs I’ve taken, I’ve had a whole host of side effects. I haven’t slept much in 14 years,” Horowitz said. “Then in 2003, I had a mastectomy, reconstruction and chemotherapy, the side effects of which threw me into menopause and the drugs gave me heart problems.”

While her battle certainly hasn’t been easy, Horowitz said she looks at her disease as a gift.

“In a sense, it made me face all of my fears,” Horowitz said. “I never flew, now I fly. I never talked in front of people, now I do. It opened me up to so many things, to meet news people and do things I never thought I’d do. It’s given me a very fulfilling life.”

Horowitz noted that the fear of the disease never really goes away and said she gets checked twice a year with mammograms and MRIs.

“There’s only one word that can scare me now, but even that, I look at it as: I’ve done this twice and I could do it again if I had to,” Horowitz said.

Horowitz now works only part-time and spends most of her time volunteering to work on political advocacy groups. She is a member of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, is on the Board of the New England Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and is active in the Massachusetts Survivorship Work Group.

“We’re doing a cancer votes project, getting politicians to give their position on cancer-related issues and get them on the record,” Horowitz said. “We’re doing a lot of advocacy work on the oral parity bill that would require insurance companies to pay for oral chemotherapy drugs.”

Horowitz also works as a review for the Department of Defense’s breast cancer research program, reviewing scientific proposals and considering funding for doctors looking for new treatments, detection efforts and cures.

“If I can do one thing to make it better for someone else, who maybe will get diagnosed earlier or won’t get diagnosed at all because of what I do, then it’s worth it,” Horowitz said.

Horowitz said she has become particularly outspoken about the issues that cancer survivors are facing.

“There is so much talk about finding a cure and new treatments,” Horowitz said, “and while that’s wonderful and I wouldn’t be alive today without them, on the other hand we have to start looking at the 11 to 12 million survivors in this country. What do we do afterward?”

While she’s busy tackling survivorship issues, she did want to pass along some advice to those women currently fighting the disease.

“The best advice I can give is to focus on yourself,” Horowitz said. “It can’t be about your partner, your children or anybody but you. You have to be selfish.”

Lindsay Corcoran can be reached at (508) 626-4338 or lcorcoran@wickedlocal.com.  Read more: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/x1890058776/Framingham-survivor-turns-advocate#ixzz29QFeido8

Keeping Your Children Healthy From The Start: What Every Parent Should Know About Toxins

When: Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Where:
The Wakelin Room at the Wellesley Public Library

“We and our children are exposed to toxins invisibly, stealthily, without our knowledge. The U.S. now makes or imports 27 trillion pounds of chemicals per year, (a number that doesn’t even include pesticides, drugs, food additives or polymers).”

(from Poisoned for Profit, by Philip and Alice Shabecoff)

This is a staggering statistic. It is highly possible that chemical exposure increases the risk for cancer at any age. We can be exposed to chemicals by breathing them in, having them touch our skin, or getting them into our eyes or mouth (including on our fingers). There are many environmental toxins over which we have little to no control, but we can control how we choose to interact with them in our homes, our food and water, and our personal care products. The most important thing that we are informed consumers.

In our homes, we expose ourselves to chemicals in two different ways. The first are the so-called “hidden chemicals.” These are the ones that are in our household items because we have been told, by industry, that there is a need for them. We really don’t even think about them. One example is Scotchgard, a stain-resisting chemical that keeps our carpets and furniture from getting stained. One of Scotchgard’s main ingredients belongs to a large family of chemicals called perfluorochemicals. These chemicals persist in the body for decades, acting through a broad range of toxic mechanisms to present potential harm to a wide range of human organs. These same perfluorochemicals are in the Teflon coating on the pots and pans that we may cook with. These chemicals can disrupt fetal development, hormonal function and the immune system and increase the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Our food supply has the potential to damage the reproductive systems of a large number of women of child-bearing age, according to a 2009 study published in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction. The Toxics Reduction Institute, located in Massachusetts, reports that obesity, diabetes, malnutrition, childhood cancer, and other chronic disease impacts are costly human consequences of our industrialized food system. Antibiotics are added to animals to increase their growth, and become ingested into our systems when we eat meat and poultry, resulting in antibiotic resistance, which contributes to the emergence of resistant forms of disease-causing bacteria, according to the World Health Organization. Artificial growth hormones are regularly added to the diet of livestock. These hormones are of no benefit to humans, and two of these hormones – estradiol, a type of estrogen, and progesterone – are considered probable carcinogens by the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health. Estrogen has been linked with breast cancer in women and testosterone with prostate cancer in men, while progesterone has been found to increase the growth of ovarian, breast and uterine tumors. The European Union has already banned use of hormones in their animal products.

The average American uses somewhere between six and ten personal care products per day. As we shampoo and condition our hair or moisturize our bodies, we may be covering our hair and skin with dibutyl phthalate, one of the family of phthalates which have been found to disrupt the endocrine system, potentially cause liver cancer, and cause reproductive system damage, according to research published in the journal Pediatrics. We can avoid using this chemical simply by reading the ingredients’ labels on the bottles of our personal care products, and choosing alternatives. Triclosan, found in almost any soap labeled “anti-bacterial,” also disrupts the body’s endocrine system, which regulates growth and development. This chemical is so pervasive that it is found in the urine of 75 percent of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Incidentally, the European Union has already banned or restricted use of phthalates and triclosan in their personal care products.

These are certainly gloomy facts to deal with, but once we are armed with knowledge, we can attempt to prevent harm. We can demand that products be tested and, even without conclusive evidence, removed from the market if there is sufficient weight of evidence indicating they are causing harm. We can produce and/or purchase chemical-free food and products for our families. However, most crucial is that we talk about these issues, and don’t sweep them under the proverbial (and, no doubt, Scotchguarded!) carpet. In understanding and taking action regarding the chemicals in our food, our homes, our lawns, our personal care products – indeed everywhere around us – we can become informed citizens and work together for a better world for us and, more importantly, for our children. In the words of Philip and Alice Shabecoff: “Environmental health can be a great unifying, empowering force.”

As we begin breast-cancer awareness month, it is important to note that the Massachusetts Breast Care Coalition is advocating for dedicated research and resources to answer the difficult question, “What is causing breast cancer?” The Wellesley Cancer Prevention Project asks you to join us in broadening that question to “What is causing all cancers?” by joining us as we host “Keeping Children Healthy From the Start: What Every Parent Should Know About Toxins,” a presentation by Philip and Alice Shabecoff, authors of Poisoned for Profit: The Toxic Assault on our Children. This free event is open to the public and includes informational resources and tips on how you can avoid unnecessary chemicals in our environment. The program will be held on Tuesday, October 11 from 7:00pm-8:30pm at the Wellesley Free Library.