The Midsters Podcast

23. Breast Cancer Warriors with Liz Ciardi

October 17, 2022 Tish, Ellen and Liz Ciardi Season 1 Episode 23
The Midsters Podcast
23. Breast Cancer Warriors with Liz Ciardi
Show Notes Transcript

This week we focus on breast cancer awareness and it's start in 1985 by former First Lady Betty Ford when she launched a call for action for women across the country by making October Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  And her leadership and legacy for women's health still continues today 37 years later. 

We have a very special guest, Cancer Survivor, Cancer Warrior and Mentor, Liz Ciardi.  Liz has faced and survived cancer multiple times and has made it her life's mission to mentor newly diagnosed women. Liz brings knowledge, support, comfort and options to many women by sharing her story.  Women Mentoring other women is so important and maybe never more so than when dealing with a Cancer diagnosis. Liz has mentored countless women over the years to ensure they feel empowered and know all their treatment options. Liz shares the importance of early detection, the benefits of using teaching hospitals, and encouraging women to take charge of their own treatment plans.

Co-Host Ellen, also a cancer Survivor and Cancer Warrior shares her story of early detection and treatment.  Ellen also honors her mother's brave but short battle with cancer that took her from us way too early.

Breast Cancer will directly affect 1 in 8 women but indirectly affects us all.  Liz shares how her own mentor, Julia Tomasovich, helped her through her first diagnosis of Breast Cancer while Julia was in Stage 4 with Breast Cancer herself.  Julia inspired Liz to become the Cancer Mentor she is today.  On October 26 each year Julia's family and friends gather in her favorite Mexican restaurant to celebrate her amazing legacy.

Obsessions:
Tish - Mobile Breast Cancer screening vans - they are in your neighborhoods ladies!
Ellen -Vital Proteins Collagen creamer for hair and nails.



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Tish Woods:

Welcome back to the Midsters podcast, I am Tish with my co host, Ellen, and we have special guest, Liz Ciardi. We are here to talk about something that will directly affect one in eight women and will indirectly affect us all. We are talking about breast cancer. And October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What most people may not realize is that breast cancer mainly occurs in middle aged women and older women. The median age at the time of breast cancer diagnosis is actually 62 years old.

Ellen Gustafson:

You know, Tish, that's a surprising fact for me. But while the median age is only 62, there, there is a number of younger women that you know younger than 45 That could be diagnosed. But younger women need to know the facts for for their mothers, for sisters, for friends, moms, and us women at midlife, we need to know the facts and be extra diligent in testing and prevention.

Tish Woods:

Absolutely. I think what you know, when you talk about breast cancer, and it's one of the most curable cancers there are, we still need to remember it is a second leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States. So we like you were saying, we still need to be very diligent.

Ellen Gustafson:

That's right. But before we jump in, and talk more about this crucial topic, and meet Liz, let's get to our obsessions. You know, Tish, this is my favorite part every week, what do you have for me?

Tish Woods:

Well, my obsession kind of goes with a breast cancer awareness as well. And it's about these mobile, mammogram vans that go around. So I don't know, I'm not even sure how I got started on this. But every year, I get notified through my favorite wine shop, the grapevine, and they let me know that the mobile mammogram, Van will be there, and I show up and I get my mammogram, and they give me a nice glass of wine. And I've also encouraged other women to like meet me there and get theirs done. At the same time. If you have a business, if you have a company that you work at, that you think would allow you to bring a van like that in there, I just want women to know, it is state of the art equipment in there. I mean, I was shocked, like how amazing their equipment was. So I don't think you're cheating yourself and getting like lower grade equipment. It was it was really impressive. So if all else fails, you know, see if there's something that comes right to your area. If you have a business, have them show up. And then your female employees can so easily just run out get their mammogram done, and they're done for the year. So that's my obsession this this week. Ellen, what about you, you obsessed with it? Well,

Ellen Gustafson:

that's a great one, I have to say, I'm not sure if we have them out here where I live in California, but I'm gonna look for it and suggest to my favorite wine bar that they be a cost for a breast cancer screening van. But I have something that's along the lines of of health and a lot of us who are breast cancer survivors, you know, we have dry hair or nails because of our treatments. And I have now discovered this thing called a vital protein, collagen, and you use it instead of like a milk hair or or you know, almond milk in your coffee. But it has a ton of collagen. And it really helps with your nails and your hair. So I'll put a little link to it. But they call it vital proteins. So it has protein, collagen, and it's super yummy.

Tish Woods:

And you just put it in your coffee every morning.

Ellen Gustafson:

Yeah, yeah. And you can get like little individual packets or a big jug of it. So some good stuff there.

Tish Woods:

Anything that can get us keep us healthy and keep us you know, kind of making sure that we're taking care of ourselves. I love that. That's great.

Ellen Gustafson:

Yeah, and, you know, many of our listeners may know when I just alluded to the fact that I too am a breast cancer survivor. And here in Marin County where I live, we were one of those clusters of breast cancer like in across the country, and they really attributed it to later child birth age and earlier or longer use of HRT hormone replacement therapy. So kind of some interesting facts here and Tish you know, I'd love Facts, right?

Tish Woods:

Oh, yes, yes. Solay one on me here

Ellen Gustafson:

I'm gonna give you one that our first Breast

Tish Woods:

Ellen, actually, yes, I didn't know that first Cancer Awareness Month kicked off in October of 1985. With former lady and breast cancer survivor, Betty Ford. lady, Betty Ford, brought breast cancer out of the shadows and really launched and did this call to action for women across the country to start really having this conversation about it. You know, up until then, any type of mention of breast cancer was kind of done as whispers You know, in that day and age, you just didn't share what was happening, especially with struggles and things going on with you. And she was really one of the first ones. And the Republican National Committee at that time, didn't want her to talk about it. And she said, No, this is important. Women's Health was super important to her. And so I think she is really one of the most under celebrated First Lady's, she was really ahead of her time, she talked about substance abuse, her struggle with substance abuse, her struggle with cancer survivor, being a cancer survivor. And so she was so brave and making herself so vulnerable, about her struggles. And that's what I love about her. And she was also super active in the era movement. So, you know, I think a lot of our younger listeners may not even be aware of all she's done for women.

Ellen Gustafson:

You know, it's true. And I'm going to call her a warrior, just like our guest, Liz, who we're going to get to really quickly here. But I wanted to share something that Betty Ford said back in 1975. She said, I don't believe that being a first lady should prevent me from expressing my views. Why should my husband's job or yours prevent us from being ourselves? Being ladylike does not require silence? Wow, this was that was radical thinking. Back at that time, people didn't talk about their problems. And she left us with this triple legacy of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Betty Ford Clinic and bringing addiction right out into the open is well and her work on the era.

Tish Woods:

Yeah, like I said, I'm not even sure that younger women are even aware of all she has done for the cause of women and women's health. There's a picture that I'm going to share on our Facebook page. And I love this photo. It's of her standing on one of the tables in the White House on this big conference table. And I thought man, she is a badass, you know, I think I think her legacy got covered up in the whole Watergate and in that time, but yeah, she's an extraordinary woman that we really should be celebrating more. But today I want to introduce our listeners to another extraordinary lady that I have had the privilege of knowing for over 25 years. I call her one of my BFFs it is our special guests, Liz Ciardi, who is a two to three time breast cancer survivor. And she is also a survivor from ovarian helped me with this one again, it was uterine lining, uterine lining uterine lining cancer. So Liz has made it her mission to use her experiences to become a mentor to countless women who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer. And that's what I really want to talk about today is Liz. Again, I love that use of the word warrior. She is like a cancer warrior. She sat on boards for cancer, fundraising and stuff in this area. So she's amazing. But her use of her knowledge to help women that are newly diagnosed is just extraordinary. It has it has probably saved a lot of lives. So I really want to talk about that. And just have her talk about her story.

Ellen Gustafson:

That's right. Welcome, Liz. Let's jump right in, and start at the beginning. I'm dying to hear your story too.

Liz Ciardi:

Well, I don't know if I save lives, but I hope I informed lives. That they're that breast cancer is not a death sentence, as long as you catch it early. And mammograms are our only source of protection and our only cure, and women really need to understand that and not fear it.

Tish Woods:

So Liz, when you were first diagnosed, had you just rushed right in and gotten your mammogram done?

Liz Ciardi:

Well, what happened was, I kept delaying it. It's for various reasons. I was 42. At the time, I should have had it at 40 with either work commitment or something, I was changing it or insurance issues. And then finally I was doing a fundraiser at my house for children who, who needed housing, and I called a friend. I had two very good friends who had both had breast cancer. And I call this friend Her name was Constance Spencer. Sure. And Constance said to me, you haven't had your mammogram yet. And I said, You're right. I haven't. And she said, here's the deal, you go for your mammogram. And I will go ahead and come to your fundraiser. And I said, You know what I've been meaning to do this. I am going to do it. Regardless of if you come I do need to get this done. And I had actually three friends at the time that were going through breast cancer. So I went to a recently open a women's center, kind of a local one not a big hospital system. And they kept me for over five hours. mammogram, sonogram, mammogram, sonogram, ma'am. Finally, they sat me down the doctor in his office and he said, Look, I see something but I don't have a baseline. And you didn't get it at 40. So I don't know what this is. He said, I think you should come back in six months. Now. I can't tell you what those five hours were like,

Tish Woods:

terribly No, for anyone who's never had a mammogram. How long does it take for a typical mammogram? Oh, 10 minutes? Yeah, no, five hours, you even you having been the first time you're getting you knew something was wrong

Liz Ciardi:

Something was definitely not right. And then for him to tell me just come back in six months after I have one friend who has stage four and dying. And two friends who have been diagnosed. I'm like, No, my Now luckily, my sister's a physician. So I picked up the phone and I was shaking in the car from the parking lot. And I called her and told her this. And she said, Get your bottom to a larger hospital system. And I said, Okay, she was go in there and get your scans. I went and I got my scans and I called. It's called Charlotte Radiology is one of the biggest ones in our area. And they made an appointment for me. And I'll never forget the doctor. Her name was Dr. Christina Ciccone. And this is 14 years ago and I I'll never forget her and she said, Okay, we're going to we're going to try an MRI. Well, at the time, my chest was too big to do an MRI. So they said, Okay, we're just going to go ahead and do a sonogram. So they put me down the table, and she literally was so fast. She waved the wand over me and looked at me and said, I'm doing a biopsy. I'm calling your insurance company. And the way she said it was set her so urgent that I looked at her, and I said, You think I have cancer? And she said yes I do. But it might not. That's why we're doing a biopsy. But if it is cancer, it will be a difficult year, and then it'll be a distant memory. And that stayed with me those words stayed with me. And they stayed with me to this day, because I had had cancer multiple times. Luckily, all my times were caught early. So

Ellen Gustafson:

yeah, can I just ask this is such a powerful statement that that doctor said to you Dr. Ciccone said, you and I both know that hearing that just changes your life right it hearing that and it for me, it was like a flaming arrow to my heart. That's how I kind of described it. You know, what did you do next? Just after that,

Liz Ciardi:

well, I met with my surgeon, and you don't hear a whole lot. So if you ever have to go and meet with a surgeon, because you have cancer, bring someone, bring a notepad, let someone else take the notes or bring a tape recorder and ask permission to tape. And they will say yes, because you are sitting there hearing, I have cancer, and you're not thinking, they're going to save me, you're thinking, I'm going to die. I'm not going to see my children graduate from grammar school or high school or college, I'm not going to be there for their wedding. I may not even see my grandchildren. These are what you're hearing in your head, you're not listening to the words they say. So it's extremely important that you bring someone with you.

Tish Woods:

Absolutely. I can't reiterate that enough. Because I think when you hear those biggest dreaded words, in a doctor's office, you have cancer, your hearing just stops.

Liz Ciardi:

It does. And you know, it can be a DCIS, which is used to be called stage zero. Now there's some debate of whether it's even cancer, I think it is. But then there's, you know, whether it's invasive, and what type of cancer, there's so many types of cancer, breast cancer, people don't realize that women just think breast cancer is breast cancer unless they've had it. So I had an amazing mentor. Her name was Julia Thomasovich, she would call me before my appointment, she knew my appointments better than I did. And the ironic thing is, she was staged four an end of life, and she was there for me so much, it was unbelievable. And I don't know what I would have done without her. And you know that paying it forward. I wanted to help other women, and I don't, I didn't set up a foundation, people just come to me. And I'm not a doctor. And I tell them that what we're going to talk about, you need to go over with your doctor, I'm just giving you advice of what I learned in my journey or in a friend's journey. And questions maybe to bring up when you speak to your doctor to bring up when you speak to your oncologist.

Tish Woods:

I think it's just different when you're having this conversation with a friend. Even if it's a new friend, you know, a lot of times, you're asked to talk to people that have never met you. And you have this extraordinary way of making people feel instantly comfortable and loved and you know, whatever. So I think people trust you just very instantly, but they're going to ask things that they're not going to ask their doctor, how you're right, your relationship, your marriage, your sexuality, right? Are they what's it

Ellen Gustafson:

like after when you have to have reconstruction? What type of reconstruction? Do you have? You know, what are you feeling like four years out five years out all of those kinds of questions, a doctor isn't going to answer for you.

Liz Ciardi:

How long before your hair grows back? I can't tell you how many times I get asked that.

Ellen Gustafson:

And it is all. Yeah,

Liz Ciardi:

and I try and give them my experience. I also give them any kind of resources that I know of that might help them when they're going through this. There are cleaning services there are there are places that will give you some lash growth stuff for free. There's different things that I try and let them know about. And then they asked me about the treatment. They don't know what to do. Do I get a mastectomy? Do I do this? Do I do that? And I tell them my story because I want them to know when they're talking to their doctor. They don't tell you this, but they're giving you five year statistics. They're not giving you 20 or 30. Because they might not have them. So

Tish Woods:

why is that important? I want on everyone to understand that has never been diagnosed. What what does that mean? Five years statistics.

Liz Ciardi:

Right? When I had breast cancer, they told me there was only a 3% chance of it coming back. I said, Okay, that's good. So

Tish Woods:

you thought that meant for the rest of your life? 3% chance, right. But that's not what it meant. It meant five years, just for the next five years, you only have a 3% chance. Correct? And then things can change.

Liz Ciardi:

Yes. So my cancer journey, I had the breast cancer in 2008. And then I was only 42. So I don't believe in that 50 year old rule to get your first mammogram I absolutely believed to go earlier. And I do want to say there's certain things you have to look for. You know, you have to know if you feel a lump. If you are, you know if you have

Tish Woods:

a geopolitical feeling a lump is doing your own breast exam, and you have to absolutely do them every month. I can't believe we don't as women, we don't do this routinely. And we should be encouraging each other right to be doing this on a routine.

Liz Ciardi:

Absolutely. You know, look for lump, a lump is going to be hard. In general, it's not going to move like a cyst moves. So if you feel something hard, and you two weeks later, you still feel something hard. You definitely want to go in and talk to your doctor if you have any kind of leakage.

Ellen Gustafson:

Yeah, and I was gonna say Liz, don't talk yourself out of it, which is what I I think a lot of us women do at this point of, oh, it's nothing, I'll I'll wait. Or maybe I have my annual exam, three or four months down. And so it's like, you know, this, what I'm hearing from you, too, is just this advocating for yourself, and not being scared. I feel like a lot of women are really afraid of the unknown when it comes to this.

Liz Ciardi:

Absolutely. I mean, the other thing I just want to mention to look for is dimply skin, kind of like an orange, you know, or redness thing, any of those things could be a sign of cancer, and do not let it freeze you. So often, all of us, every one of us, is just frozen, we can't bear to think about it, we can't think about it. So we push it out of our head. Don't do that when it comes to your breasts, you have to get it checked. The only cure is early detection. And thank God that I went for that mammogram, thank God, they found that cancer. The second time I felt a lump. And I knew something was wrong. And I waited a couple of weeks, and it was still there. So I went to see my surgeon, excuse me, I went to see my Yeah. And he called and had me go for a mammogram again. And sure enough, it was there. Now he tells me that it's it would be doubtful that I could have felt it. But I'm telling you I did I knew my breasts well enough. So what you need to do is even afterwards, you need to be diligent and get those mammograms and get those that testing. Now the second time it came back in the exact same place. Now in the middle of those two times, because that was nine years apart. I was 42 when I went on chemo, and it put me into menopause. But I didn't know that because they give you a drug called tamoxifen. And this Tamoxifen is really meant for women who are not in menopause. I shouldn't have been on Arimidex. So not knowing that no one tested me to see if I was in menopause. I didn't know this. I got you know, endometrial or uterine lining cancer. And now again, I was getting checked from my OB, I was on medicine that I needed to be checked for my OB every single year. And luckily, she said, I do not like your lining. We're going to do, we're going to do a biopsy. And again, they found cancer, which is leading back to the first cancer because it's that medicine that would have done it. They switched my medicine. I had a hysterectomy and had my ovaries out. Because I feel that ovarian cancer is another terrible cancer that affects women. And you really don't you there's no way to test for that until it's too late. So I figured, look, my particular cancer is hormone positive hormones make it grow. So of hormones, that feeds on hormones, so get rid of my ovaries. They just made sense to me. But that's a personal choice. Everything you do and your cancer treatment is a personal choice. And don't just give carte blanche to the doctors, you need to take hold of your cancer and you need to think about how it's going to affect you and your family and the things you want to do. The second time. Oh,

Ellen Gustafson:

I was I was just going to interject here. I too, had my ovaries out. My mom had ovarian cancer and died within six months of her diagnosis. And so I had been wanting to have them out even before I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And so for me, it was an Early Detection Program here in Marin, because of my high risk status that gave me a breast MRI and an mammogram every year. And you know what I'm like some of those women you were talking about. For two or three years, I did not take advantage of this program that was so generously offered to me. And finally, my OB was like, why aren't you doing this? I was like, Oh, the insurance and the pre approval and, and she was like, Okay, we're gonna take care of this for you. And that's when I went and my cancer was found again very early because of taking advantage of that program. So these two things really are resonating with me about your story. One is just the early detection and not being afraid and myself being somebody who put this off. I was around 50. So I should not have been like I'm too young for this. But also advocating for myself knowing how horrific ovarian cancer was for my mom in those six months and really not wanting it. I did take control and had had my ovaries removed at that time. So both of those things are I think a really big themes

Tish Woods:

here they are, Liz you had said earlier to about sharing stories, sharing stories, and I want everyone to listening especially if you've haven't had cancer. The reason you need to hear the story is because it is going to affect you in some way, whether it's yourself or someone, you know, if one in eight women are contracting cancer, it is going to affect your life, you need to hear the stories you need to hear the options people were given. How would they do it? How would they do it next time. That's why I think this mentoring is so powerful. You're not going in there and telling women what they have to do. You're telling them this is what happened to me. And the and this is how I made my choices. This is how I made my decision. This is how I researched to get you know what I was just determining what I wanted to do for my course of action. And that's what women need to understand. We need to just like Betty Ford, we need to be talking about this, we need to be open, we need to be asking questions, challenging our friends, I'm not coming to your fundraiser until you go get a mammogram.

Liz Ciardi:

And I'll tell you that there's so much misinformation out there. I think most people think I can't get breast cancer, it's not in my family. But only five to 10% is genetic 90% of people with breast cancer, did not have it in their genes and not have it in their family. So please, ladies do not think because it wasn't in your mom or your grandma, that it's not going to be in you. We don't know what our environment is doing to us. I can tell you that I think I don't know what I think gave me my cancer the first time is I was put on hormone replacement, because I was having heavy periods. And I was put on the pill, didn't think anything of it. Within six months, I found out I had breast cancer. So I think that I think it's or maybe it was the year, but I think that may have contributed to it. So be careful of all you do, including hormone therapy, I'm not telling you not to I'm just telling you to consider what can happen, you know,

Tish Woods:

or to be extra diligent if your doctor says hormone therapy is something that you should be doing. This is a time for you to be extra diligent,

Liz Ciardi:

Ask the questions what else we do,

Ellen Gustafson:

right? Or what about bio identical, right, there are other things that maybe your doctor isn't really focused on. And I think it's that advocating is again, so important, really that critical thinking about what you're being told.

Liz Ciardi:

And my second time I had cancer, I did a personal choice. Everything is a personal choice. It was small, it was growing in the same place. They missed a cell is what they think happened and it grew back nine years later. So what I chose for me was to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction at the same time. It's called a deep flap. There are many different procedures, and you have to do what's right for you. And I think it was the right choice that I made because I didn't want any foreign bodies in me because I evidently had a tendency for cancer. So I didn't want to put a foreign body and mean like a silicone breast. So this is a choice that I made. And I was happy with it. I was I was excessively large. And so they had to take both breasts. Well, wouldn't you know it when they took the other breast? There was DCIS. And that breasts, which is stage zero, another type of breast cancer. I think that's what you had, right?

Ellen Gustafson:

Yes, it is what I had. Yeah. And they were very aggressive in my treatment to, which I was happy about. And I'm

Liz Ciardi:

so glad they weren't because I have a friend that they weren't aggressive with. And unfortunately now she's stage four. And they thought they had it all. And she's even a nurse. So I mean, you just don't know. So if you have DCIS or you have stage one, and you feel strongly that you want a masectomy do it either. Doctors are very much about conservation conserving the breast. They'll give you those statistics 97% chance but you know what? Only you know what's right for you. I wish I had done it. I have a friend who is a Doogie Howser he had he had his degree very early and he said the type of cancer you have. You need to have a double mastectomy and I didn't listen to him and he was right. It came back. I had lobular invasive, it grows flat. It doesn't grow like a lump. And he was absolutely correct. He told me it would be in the other breast and it was and actually it wasn't easy. I forget lacs. I'm kidding. But anyway, though, it did come back and the other breast exactly what he said could happen. But you have to make the decision at the time I was good with that decision. But the next time I said okay, take them off. And you don't have to have them reconstructed. There's a huge flat movement. It's up to the woman. It's up to you what you're comfortable with. I couldn't imagine not having them. But there are plenty of women who are fine with them. And then there are women who just do tattoos around their scars and they're beautiful. So it's totally what you desire. And the key is I'm trying to get to you is if you get breast cancer, find a mentor. Find somebody He who has been through it and wants to mentor you, but also do your research, get your information and take control of your cancer. You're the only one who needs to be making the decisions.

Tish Woods:

Now, one of the things I'm pretty passionate about talking about is where you go for treatment. So can you explain why it's important to go to teaching facilities?

Liz Ciardi:

Yeah, we have three hospitals in Charlotte in the area, where I live, one is smaller regional. One is very large, and a teaching hospital. And one is not as big but more posh, more were, where many people go. I wanted the teaching hospital, I didn't care that it was a public hospital, because I knew that they were ahead of the curve on the knowledge and that they had and I was even put in some studies. One of the things that my doctor said to me is, this isn't 2008 I want to take your bone marrow, I said, that I'm stage one, why do you want my bone marrow? And he said, I said, there won't be cancer there. And he goes, Yes, there will be. He goes, we all have cancer. It's a question of whether or not it's a dormant or not. And he said that the cancer, especially with invasive goes into the bloodstream, and can go and deposit into your bone marrow. And that's why so often breast cancer comes back in your bones. And that's also why they don't want to do the mastectomy, because they feel like it may come back else, other places, and I get that. So hopefully, it never comes back. But if you hear someone say, I'm cancer free, there's no such thing. We all have cancer in our bodies, the question is, is active? And what can we do to make it not active, eat whole, not eat processed foods, depending on if you're hormone positive, or not, to make sure that you don't eat things that can activate hormone or can mimic hormones. And there's a nutritionist that can help you with that, I always give people the advice that I've heard, so that they are aware.

Tish Woods:

But I just want to round back on the teaching hospital. Thanks, because I think it's such an important key that people understand. So there's major institutions like MD Anderson down in Texas that does very specific research on breast cancer, in order to get access to a lot of that information, you yourself have to be a teaching hospital. They can't they can't just disseminate information everywhere. They just can't like a small little, you know, a local physician or whatever. But if you are tied into an institution, that's a teaching hospital, those physicians are going to have access to the latest research, be able to send your information over to be seen. I, to me, that is one of the biggest parts. Yeah,

Liz Ciardi:

I even had my I think was called oncotype, and they took my cancer and they tested it, and it's stored. So if any kind of medication comes out, that will be a bigger benefit to me, they will go, I think it was called dx and Oncotype DX, that they went and they stored it, and they advise me if anything ever comes up to help my cancer. I mean, I think that's also important too. I think there's so many things that and also, just because you're talking to a top surgeon, or a top oncologist, and I was I was talking with Dr. White, who was at atrium and Dr. Tan, it's okay to want to get a second opinion. And I went work for us and got a second opinion. And my two doctors at both places, combined and made a plan that was right, for me, there was a little bit from both. And it was what I needed to know that it isn't going to come back that I'm doing the best thing I can, that I'm doing fully what I can, you know, someone said, Well, what if it only changes you by 1%. I said, and if I come back a third time, I should have done it, I won't know that that 1% wasn't the reason that I didn't do what I needed to do. So true personal choice.

Ellen Gustafson:

It is in you know, Liz out here, we're able to have treatment close by, but be affiliated with a research hospital, in the city. And so I think you should always look for that. And so it's like you're having two sets of doctors care for you, in a sense, and so you have access to that. But I really like the fact that you're talking about a personal choice, because some women choose to have a lumpectomy, you know, instead of a more, you know, radical or aggressive treatment. And I think we have to support everybody, like you're saying wherever they are on their journey. Right. You know, one thing I found because, you know, I'm the fact checker here. The fact is that African American women are at a much higher risk for breast cancer, and at younger so they they need to be even more diligent.

Liz Ciardi:

You're, you're correct, they actually have a higher chance of getting breast cancer before 40 as well as getting triple negative now triple negative cancer for the Those who don't know is a cancer that you can't take a pill for, you can't take something to block your hormones, because that cancer does not, does not feed on hormones. And it is very important to really look into what steps you should do with that. I'm going to give you my personal opinion, if you're triple negative, I believe in getting a mastectomy. It's a very difficult cancer. I've had multiple friends unfortunately have that cancer. And I've lost multiple friends to that cancer. And that's, that's a really difficult thing. But one thing you need to know is if you ever get cancer, there's this amazing club that you just join, nobody wants to join it. But women will embrace you, other women who've gone through it will be there for you. It's really of fantastic support system that you don't even know it's there. And people don't know I do this. People just automatically will say my sister, my cousin, my mother had breast cancer. Will you talk to her? And of course I will. I mean, sometimes it's just nice to talk to someone who's been through it and survived. Because it's I remember going to that first komen race and seeing a woman with 20 balloons and breaking out into tears.

Tish Woods:

And what does that mean? Oh 20 Balloons mean, if you have never been to a Susan B Komen race

Liz Ciardi:

the balloon, the balloon is one it was used to be the one balloon for every year you had a cancer, you survived cancer around it. Yeah. And so it meant so much to me to see these women with 20 balloons and think I want to be that woman. I want to see my son's graduate high school and college. I want to be there when my son gets married and want to be there when I have a grandchild. And thank God because I was diligent, I've had all those things. I have a grandchild, I saw my one son's wedding. I've been there for high school in college and law school graduations. And I'm so grateful for my doctors for doing this. And I'm so grateful for the medicine that's there. And we need to not have the fear of getting checked. And I know that's paralyzing to so many women. And if even one woman hears this and says, I'll go get checked, then then maybe I've done something right by being here.

Tish Woods:

Absolutely. Well, you know, I have to say there, there is a lot of great news out there about breast cancer. And again, it is one of the most survivable cancers. Key is early detection. And we need to remember that though 43,250 women will die from breast cancer. So even though it's survivable, it's still extremely serious. And you know, that each of those women is somebody's daughter, possibly their mother, their wife, their their sister, their best friend. If it takes forcing your friends to go, that takes making it a Girl's Day, whatever it is, we need to be staying diligent in the testing, diligent and early detection and diagnosis. diligent in the treatments, you know, researching and talking to each other, knowing what kind of breast cancer you have. And staying diligent afterwards for continued screening. Because you always are you are always diligent about that. And you have caught reoccurrences multiple times.

Liz Ciardi:

Yeah, I've been very lucky. But one thing I want to get out there is, this is about mentoring, right? Yes. And so mentor women, whatever it might be, whatever you're gone through that you want to help someone else go through. This has been my journey, but you have your own, whether it's going through a divorce, whether it's child rearing, whether it's going through a tough pregnancy, be there for other women, it's Women Helping Women, you know, become a mentor, and whatever you you can help with. I had a mentor that was amazing, Julia, and let's let me tell you that it's 14 years and every October 26, we still celebrate her birthday, her friends gather. It was something that I started her children were younger, and now they're older, and they've taken over. And we just had this event. It's her favorite restaurant, every October 26. And I can't thank her enough for mentoring me, and I can't thank her enough for everything she did. And I hope to make a difference in someone's life or advise someone other things that I didn't know that I found out on my journey that will be helpful to them.

Tish Woods:

It's funny because even your mentor is sometimes it's just the little things too. I can't remember. I mean, there's times literally like, I'm going to send this sign up genius over to you. We got to do meals for this lady, I don't even know the lady I'm like, Okay, I went over the one time and the guy said, Well, how do you know my wife? Yeah, I don't. Don't really I said Yeah, because women We need to be supporting women no matter what it is. Yeah,

Ellen Gustafson:

absolutely. Well, I want to thank you, Liz and thank all the warriors and special ladies out there, including Betty Ford today, who make it their mission to, as you said, help other women. And I just want to say when we work together, we are better and we are unstoppable. So until next week, ladies, I say go schedule that mammogram and let us know on our Facebook page that you did it.

Tish Woods:

And I challenge each of you to get two other friends to schedule. There's absolutely until next week. Midsters have a

Ellen Gustafson:

great next week. See ya. Thank you