Allison’s Angels

Allison’s Angels Socially Aware Students (SAS) and Serrano High School Socially Aware Students (SSAS) raised $277.36 for ChemoWize, a local non-profit supporting breast cancer chemotherapy patients, by selling pink cancer bracelets!

Top Fundraising Allison’s Angel’s were Jin Joo Kim and Morgan Morrison.  Pictured with SAS students Morgan Morrison, Kathelyn Gutierrez, Emma Griffin, Charlotte Caraway, Emma Beard and Atziry Perez are Jennifer Zumkley and Alex Peterson of ChemoWize .  With the help of teacher Deb Peace, parent volunteers are Andrea Morrison and Terre LaVogue, whose daughter Allison urged SASS to raise funds for local breast cancer patients after her mother was diagnosed. Tragically, Allison was lost to a car accident in October of 2014 just after her 18th birthday, but her friends, family and club continue her legacy.

January 2017

It’s always good to look back, if briefly, over the year gone by and take stock. So often the “busyness” of business can get in the way of a long-term perspective. This time of year always has me thinking about New Year’s Resolutions.

What about you?

Here are some of mine.

Let go of the self-beating. – It is hurtful and unproductive. Life is too short. Cancer survivors know this on a very intimate and gut level, yet many of us repeat those “not good enough” critical words to ourselves regularly. With the cancer diagnosis itself, I have had to let go of the guilt or worry that I caused it somehow, too.

Let go of the past. – I can’t change it. It is time to forgive others, forgive myself and move forward. If there is something that can be fixed by some kind of verbal or actual reparation, I try to do it. As for the rest, it makes more sense to look forward rather than backwards.

Resolve to help. – Cancer can encourage someone to be extremely self-focused – at least that is one of the ways it affected me. Now is the time to give, to look outward, around us and to help where we can.

Resolve to live – Focus on the people around you. Focus on nature. Create and work on your personal bucket list. There is always someone or something around us to enjoy. Get out there – one step, one breath and one moment at time.

Resolve to take care of yourself – Yes, this includes a healthy diet and exercise but it also means, for me, moderation and no self-beating for backslides. Be gentle with yourself. After everything you have experienced, you deserve it.

Resolve to be grateful – Every day, find three things to be grateful for. Do try to cultivate this habit – you will find yourself to be happier!

I am not going to make a longer list. Six is plenty! I wouldn’t remember more anyway! With these resolutions in mind, I will look life in the face in 2017 and say, “Bring it on!”

What resolutions are you making this year?

– Director Alex Peterson

Happy Holidays 2016

Christmas is approaching at the end of a very stressful year for everyone and I find myself wanting to think about the positives rather than dwelling on the negatives. As Founder & Director of ChemoWize I see women from young to old coping with the news that they have breast cancer. While I enjoy fussing about in ChemoWize Corner, our thrift store located in Wrightwood, as well as outreach at local schools and Farmer’s Markets, fundraisers and other
events, the real pleasure of my volunteer work is the women.

Women can be wise, empathetic, brave and philosophical – and also very funny. It is a privilege to be a small part of their journey, and to share both laughter and tears. I have learnt an enormous amount from women I have met through ChemoWize, beneficiaries, practitioners and volunteers alike, and have great respect for their ability to deal with what life brings.

Staying with the positive theme, we need to remember that at least 80% of women now survive their breast cancer – a massive improvement over the last 20 years – attributed to screening mammography, improved adjuvant therapy and increased awareness by women themselves. An enormous amount of research continues to be done. The ability to identify multiple genetic markers on the cancer now enables oncologists to help decide what the most appropriate treatment is for a woman after her surgery, identifying women who currently may not appear to require chemotherapy, but are at high risk, and also identify women who may seem to require chemotherapy, but are actually at low risk.

If, in these worrying times, with the added pressure of Christmas approaching, I have failed to lift your spirits, I have a suggestion. At the risk of sounding facetious or frivolous – if you are feeling low, may I suggest that you rent or buy the musical ‘Mamma Mia’. Fast-forward to the song ‘Dancing Queen’, turn up the volume really loud, share the joy in those women young and old – and dance as if you are still 17!

It works for me every time!

My best wishes to you all for the festive season and thank you for all the support you have given my organization.

Alex Peterson

Beneficiary of the Month November 2016

Our beneficiary this month is a man who wants to remain anonymous.

Yes – Men Get Breast Cancer Too!

Humans are all born with some breast cells and tissue. Even though males do not develop milk-producing breasts, a man’s breast cells and tissue can still develop cancer. Breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment.

Less than one percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men, and only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite the statistics that make male cancer rare, men need to check their breasts too – early detection saves lives!