Yes, Ma’am-o-gram

10.29.2010 | 9:02 am

201010290849.jpgA Note from Fatty: Several of you have emailed, asking if there will be a Team Fatty for Movember. The answer is a definite Yes. So guys, get a good shave on Halloween and then plan on growing your mustache beginning on November 1. I’ll have more to say on this Monday.

Another Note from Fatty: Today’s guest post comes from Philly Jen, the Team Fatty Philly Co-Captain.

Yes, Ma’am-o-gram

Earlier this month, just when I began to taper for my first-ever marathon, a routine annual mammogram revealed the presence of a tumor in my right breast.

Lucky me.

Here on Team Fatty, we talk a lot about fighting cancer. Sometimes that fight is inspiring and glorious — but sometimes it’s mundane, unglamorous, even a little annoying.

Let’s be honest, getting regular screening mammograms once you reach a certain age isn’t sexy.

But it also isn’t torture, even if they do make you wipe off any anti-perspirant and perfume that you might be wearing into the exam room. It’s more like having a private yoga tutorial (lift your shoulder, reposition your elbow, rotate your ribcage ever-so-slightly more) with a rigorous, dedicated instructor who has your best interests at heart.

Think of it this way: every time you climb into a mammogram machine, you’re striking a warrior pose in the fight against cancer.

Early detection is one of the most powerful weapons that we have in that fight. But early detection doesn’t fall out of the sky. There’s no Cancer Fairy who leaves a note on your pillow saying, “Now would be a good time to go see your doctor.”

What we do have are tools that permit us to detect potentially deadly changes in our bodies, long before they manifest themselves through physical discomfort and illness.

Take my tumor (please). Initial tests indicate that it is probably an unusual and rare growth known as a phyllodes tumor. While not an adenocarcinoma, and while frequently benign, phyllodes tumors can undergo stunningly rapid growth and malignant ones can also metastasize. The medical literature documents tumors the size of eggs, oranges, grapefruits. As far as I’m concerned, permitting this thing to couch-surf inside me is simply not an option.

Thanks to early detection, I’m glad to report that my tumor is small, almost anticlimactically so. It’s about the size of a soybean, or a peanut.

Given its location and size, it can’t even be palpated, or detected by touch. And I’m in good health, running twenty miles at a time as part of my marathon training and zipping through a recent annual physical with flying colors.

Which means the only way we knew that the tumor even existed this early in the game — the sole reason I got a headstart against the eggs and oranges and the rest of the produce aisle, not to mention the possible mets — was because of a routine mammogram.

Now if that makes me a poster girl, I’ll take it, as long as it’s this gem by Jawbone Radio’s Len Peralta (with soundtrack by Jonathan Coulton):


So please, people, if you’ve been putting off cancer screening — mammograms, Pap smears, colonoscopies, PSA tests, getting skin changes examined, and so on — you can be your own hero. Take advantage of these tools to help spot cancer when it’s most treatable, because that’s also an important part of how Team Fatty carries on the fight.

Do it for all the people who love you, cherish you, and rely on you. Do it to honor those who didn’t have the health opportunities that you do, and who paid far too dearly because of it. Do it because we need you with us.

Remember, we don’t take up the fight because it’s easy. We fight because we can.

This Sunday, after three truly rotten weeks, I’m going to run 26.2 miles in northern Virginia and Washington, DC. After I return home to Philadelphia, I will undergo a lumpectomy. And then I’m looking forward to cake, ice cream, and the rest of my amazing, wonderful life.


  1. Comment by Kqadams | 10.29.2010 | 9:09 am

    Our thoughts are with you.

    You are brave, strong, and totally right.

    And you are an EXCELLENT writer!

    I look forward to hearing more about your amazing, wonderful and, with a little more luck, healthy life.

  2. Comment by Philly Jen | 10.29.2010 | 9:13 am

    Extra thanks to Team Fatty’s Jenni Laurita for coming down to keep me company during a very rough patch, and saving me from going into complete meltdown. ♥

  3. Comment by Barbara | 10.29.2010 | 9:24 am

    Thanks, Jen, for this beautifully written reminder that it’s not just about throwing $5 or $500 into the raffle to win a bike – there are positive steps that we all owe ourselves and our loved ones. “Striking a warrior pose in the fight against cancer” – what a great image. As a member of Team Fatty Philly, I’m proud of you!

    Weather should be perfect for your first marathon. I ran mine half my life ago in the early 80’s and there is nothing like that feeling of setting a goal, doing the training, and accomplishing an incredible feat. Have a great time!

  4. Comment by Marilyn Wheatley | 10.29.2010 | 9:29 am

    Best of luck to you Jen in your marathon and getting this taken care of right away!!! We need out team co-captain.

  5. Comment by Jenny J. | 10.29.2010 | 9:37 am

    Oh, Jen, I’m so glad they caught this early! I hope you get to be the poster girl for early detection for a number of years. Kick ass at the marathon this weekend!

    …You should stop by the Rally to Restore Sanity on Saturday for me – I can’t make it. :D

  6. Comment by Jenn | 10.29.2010 | 10:02 am

    Beautiful and elegant commentary, from one who I suspect is the embodiment of those traits. Best to you, Jen. The very best.

  7. Comment by Geo | 10.29.2010 | 10:29 am

    Best of luck to you Jen. Hope it all goes well.

    And I will have to pass on Movember. No matter what the cause, I don’t think my wife will allow it. ;-)

  8. Comment by ChuckH | 10.29.2010 | 10:37 am

    Thanks Jen for sharing your courage. Best of luck on the marathon and more importantly on living large.

  9. Comment by Randy | 10.29.2010 | 10:45 am

    Wow! Well written and inspiring. I wish you the very best.

  10. Comment by NancyP | 10.29.2010 | 10:47 am

    Go Jen! Thanks for bringing the fight back into focus with wisdom and humor.
    - here’s wishing you strength and your usual good humor as you power through the marathon and surgery.

    all the best,

  11. Comment by eclecticdeb | 10.29.2010 | 10:54 am

    “Strike a warrior pose against cancer” — I think this should be plastered in every mammogram room. I’m up for my annual screening — like you, I am relatively young and healthy. However, my Mom lost her fight against breast cancer three years ago, so even though I feel fine…every year I undergo this necessary test with a certain amount of fear.

    Have a great race. You deserve it.

  12. Comment by AngieG | 10.29.2010 | 11:02 am

    Oh PJ, I wish I could be there with you, but know I am there in fighting spirit ready to help you kick some cancer a$$ if need be.

    You are so right about early detection and screening. As a DES daughter I started getting Paps at the tender age of 15. I whined and complained to my mom how embarrassing it was but she did her research and knew I had a greater risk. And THANK God she did. I had my first abnormal pap detecting early stage cancer cells at 17, then again at 29.

    If it weren’t for early screening and my wonderful, strong, persistent mom I may or may not be here today.

    Good luck in the marathon this weekend. I know you’ll do AWESOME!!! Love you lots!!!

  13. Comment by Clydesteve | 10.29.2010 | 11:12 am

    Thanks for this timely reminder, Jen. I am still remembering you in my prayers, cause I know it’s unsettling until it’s done and gone. Hang in there!

    Have a great time marathoning.


  14. Comment by Jenni Laurita | 10.29.2010 | 11:32 am

    Your post got me choked up. I was actually just coming to pet your cat and grab some ice cream. Do I still get the credit?

    As Ben Lee says, “We are all in this together”. I’m in it with you sista!

  15. Comment by Squirrelhead | 10.29.2010 | 12:04 pm

    That was an excellent write up Jen. I am so sorry to hear your news and will keep you in my prayers. Have a great race in DC!
    I am intrigued by this Movember. I may have to get in on it.

  16. Comment by Adventure Nell | 10.29.2010 | 12:10 pm

    thanks for sharing this with us Jen. I just got my notice that it is time to book my mammogram and have been putting it off. Now I will book and strike my best warrior girl pose!

  17. Comment by DennisBrowne | 10.29.2010 | 12:29 pm

    Your post was both informative and inspiring …w ay to go warrior … rock the marathon in DC.

  18. Comment by Pedalpink | 10.29.2010 | 12:33 pm

    “You can be your own hero” Yes, you can. Philly Jen, you are one of my hero’s. Thanks for sharing in such a meaningful way.

    I’ll be using your post – with its wisdom and its wit – to encourage my friends to schedule their overdue exams.

    Because of my high risk status, I have had annual mammograms (and now MRI’s) since young adulthood. That translates into over 40 with re-checks and six month evals. I’ll have a new vision as when I next confront the machine and strike up warrior pose in the fight against cancer.

    I’ll be sending my thoughts and energy your way on Sunday in your first ever marathon. Run strong, Jen, and LiveStrong. I’ll be checking the results!

  19. Comment by Nurse Betsy | 10.29.2010 | 12:39 pm

    thanks for the reminder PJ. My prayers are with you. Making my appt for a physical today. Thanks for sharing and how wonderful to know that you are surrounded by such a large (fatty) loveing community.
    All the best to you.

  20. Comment by Joel P. | 10.29.2010 | 12:55 pm

    Great post PJ (I was the first to call you PJ)and great advice about early screening. You know your whole Fatty Philly family has your back for anything you need and then we will all eat cake. What Jenni Hoops said, we’re all in it with you sista.
    Joel P.

  21. Comment by Kathy McElhaney | 10.29.2010 | 1:08 pm

    Excellent post, Jen,
    In 1990 my mom had her first mammogram when she was 50. No one in our family had breast cancer before. 50 was the recommended age at the time. Mom’s lump was also undetectable by touch. For 8 years she fought her cancer so courageously.

    No, mammograms aren’t fun or glamorous, but I faithfully go each year in hopes that early detection will lengthen my own life.

    Thoughts and prayers are with you. Expecting a great outcome for you!

  22. Comment by RunGirlRun | 10.29.2010 | 1:19 pm

    Thanks for the reminder. I’ve been procrastinating a couple annual visits to the doc but now you’ve made think of it in another light. I’m calling now. Then I’ll get on the treadmill (only been putting that off a couple hours). And from one marathon chick to another, Rock On! The discomfort is only temporary but the satisfaction lives on forever (much like the mammogram & pap)!

  23. Comment by Rob M. | 10.29.2010 | 1:23 pm

    Philly Jen, the “warrior pose” comment is brilliant.

    Team FattyPhilly members are so proud of you and, with your insight, humor, and courage in today’s post, others will know why we are so proud of you.

    All my best to you on Sunday and beyond.

  24. Comment by kellene | 10.29.2010 | 1:52 pm

    I will now refer to you as Xena the Warrior Princess!! I am sorry you have this to deal with…health issues are heavy. Keep us posted on your progress. Prayers, love and good thoughts coming your way from our family here in Colorado.
    Go rock that marathon.

  25. Comment by Rob L | 10.29.2010 | 1:59 pm

    Philly Jen – Glad you caught it when you did! Hope it is nothing more than a soybean that snuck in.

    good luck at the Marine Corps Marathon!

  26. Comment by Pedal Diva | 10.29.2010 | 2:39 pm

    Hang tough Jen. Thank you for sharing your story. You are an inspiration.

  27. Comment by Whit | 10.29.2010 | 2:48 pm

    Philly Jen, This is some smart PR — turning a bad into the best possible bad, staying positive despite the hand you’ve been dealt, and doing all of us a service and a reminder, too. Keep your chin up (maybe except for when you’re on a bike) — we’re rooting for you! xxxoo

  28. Comment by asmathews (Alex) | 10.29.2010 | 3:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story Jen. Kick ass at your marathon!

  29. Comment by Chris | 10.29.2010 | 3:38 pm

    Jen, Good luck this weekend at MCM! Wish I were going to be down at the start/finish this year, other things intervened.

  30. Comment by Lynda | 10.29.2010 | 3:51 pm

    Cancer has a way of making us feel out of control. I like the idea of 26.2 as an antidote. Keep us posted Jen.

  31. Comment by BikeCopMO formerly BikeCopVT | 10.29.2010 | 4:25 pm

    Jen, first have fun on your run. Second, thank you for sharing you story. Finally, Austin was not the same without Philly Jen. Missed you.

  32. Comment by TimRides | 10.29.2010 | 4:43 pm

    Jen -

    Well said, but I’m unhappy that you are in a position to say it. Early detection is definitely the way to go, and this is indeed the best weapon we’ve got right now. My nine-year survivor wife found it that way too.

    I know that Philly claims you, but let’s face it, all of Team FattyAmerica is pulling for you on this hill. Have a GREAT marathon, accept every offer of help you get after the surgery, and remember that chocolate has curative powers!

  33. Comment by stuckinmypedals | 10.29.2010 | 5:41 pm

    Philly Jen, you are the epitome of striking a warrior pose against cancer. Thanks for sharing your story and your energy.

  34. Comment by Mo | 10.29.2010 | 6:10 pm

    PhillyJen! I will be out there cheering for you, right around Mile 2. Go kick some booty. Sending you lots of good wishes for a great day and for staying strong next week!

    Cheers, Mo

  35. Comment by Penina | 10.29.2010 | 6:16 pm

    Go Jen Go! Both at the Marine Corps Marathon, and with your warrior posing.
    I second that post procedure prescription.
    Cake and chocolate…Team Fatty Philly’s meal of champions.
    And yes, chocolate fixes everything.

  36. Comment by Doug (way upstate NY) | 10.29.2010 | 7:15 pm

    Jen…my thoughts are with you. Please let me know if you need anything. Drop me an email. I’ll try to say something funny to make you smile….or just send words of encouragement……or send a recipe for a great chocolate cake……. Doug

  37. Comment by Ken | 10.29.2010 | 7:40 pm

    Go Jen! Let me add another vote for regular yes-ma’am-a-grams. My mom is still here 25+ years later due to good early detection

  38. Comment by houston gal | 10.29.2010 | 9:04 pm

    Hmm, I’ve had a lump that last year they didn’t see anything on screen, now it seems larger and you’re making me think it is time to reschedule and raise my warrior voice to be heard.

  39. Comment by christine | 10.29.2010 | 9:05 pm

    Philly Jen, warm wishes and best of luck with the procedure and the recovery. Your heartfelt (and brave!) message really hit home with me, and I went to make appointments for vaccine boosters and [girly] things. It’s all too easy to put these things off as trivialities, but having to confront them in their fullest is something I’d rather not have to do.

  40. Comment by NYCCarlos | 10.29.2010 | 9:47 pm

    Fight like Susan, get Mammograms like PJ?

  41. Comment by Mvsc | 10.29.2010 | 10:44 pm

    Go get ‘em, PhillyJen, and thanks for sharing and encouraging action. Similar situation, different boob. Lumpectomy 5 years ago, on Halloween – my spooky reminder…

  42. Comment by Bridget in Minnesota | 10.30.2010 | 6:38 am

    Incredible post. Thank you! I’ll be praying…

  43. Comment by Anne | 10.30.2010 | 7:30 am

    Thank you for sharing your story Jen. So important that we do what we can to prevent this horrible disease and cathing it as early as possible.

    Best of luck to you and my thoughts are with you.

  44. Comment by Rhonda | 10.30.2010 | 9:17 am

    Your warrior woman energy will get you through every mile this weekend. Have a GREAT RUN!!!

  45. Comment by Diane | 10.30.2010 | 9:22 am

    Great post Jen. Conquer the run, then conquer the tumor. I had a mastectomy 16 years ago and go every year for a mammogram on my remaining breast. Went last week in fact. Waiting for the results but know that early detection is the key. From now on I’ll remember I’m doing a “warrior pose against cancer” — that imagery is way more positive. All the best – Diane

  46. Comment by Par | 10.30.2010 | 1:20 pm

    Thanks, Jen, for helping everyone who reads you. My wife and I walked through that tunnel this year. We’re now out in the light on the other side, and so thankful for the mammogram!

  47. Comment by Julie | 10.30.2010 | 1:33 pm

    Best of luck, Jen!

  48. Comment by leroy | 10.30.2010 | 4:49 pm

    I pity the fool tumor that tries to mess with Philly Jen.

    Go Jen!

  49. Comment by cece | 10.30.2010 | 5:14 pm

    Getting a mammogram will never be the same from now on as I contemplate doing warrior pose in the machine! I had a similar procedure on the right breast and lumpectomy several years ago. It was not cancerous but it had to come out as your described so well.

    Who is taking pics and who has the video cam for your marathon run? I want to see you rock this race! You go …and and bring along with you on this run the supreme optimism that is your hallmark!

  50. Comment by Claire | 10.30.2010 | 6:56 pm

    I am totally doing warrior pose anytime I have to get a mammogram now. I am thinking of you through your 26.2 and your surgery. You are an inspiration. Thinking of you.

  51. Comment by Mayhemnsuz | 10.30.2010 | 7:13 pm

    Philly Jen! What’s your bib number? I’m in DC and have other friends running the MCM I want to cheer for you too!

  52. Comment by Mayhemnsuz | 10.31.2010 | 8:15 am

    Philly Jen is through 15k in 1:49:59 –
    Allez Allez!!!!!

  53. Comment by Niki | 10.31.2010 | 9:14 am

    For those who do not have insurance, what are their options for annual screenings?

  54. Comment by houston gal | 10.31.2010 | 10:45 am

    Niki, low cost screening are available through many hospitals, check this link

    Good health care is not just for the rich.

  55. Comment by Big Boned | 10.31.2010 | 10:53 am

    Breaking my silence…
    I came back to this site today. Don’t really know why other than I just got the news that my mother has 3 months to live. By the time they found her cancer, it is everywhere. No treatment is recommended or being contemplated. It’s all about pain management. I’m thousands of miles away and hope to get to see her twice before she is gone.
    Though you and I have not met, I was on your Philadelphia team in 2009. I am glad you have caught this early. Fight on (and run well). Cancer sucks.
    Big Boned

  56. Comment by Mayhemnsuz | 10.31.2010 | 12:20 pm

    Philly Jen rocked Marine Corps!! I had to go to work (boo) and couldn’t go to the finish but I’ve been tracking my pals who are running. Looks like Philly’s finest crossed the line at 5:26:24 (thank you interwebs). Way to go PJ!!!!! You are an inspiration.

  57. Comment by Anonymous | 10.31.2010 | 1:30 pm

    you are amazing. when i met you in august you inspired me, now you just blow me away with your strength.

  58. Comment by PaulScarlett | 10.31.2010 | 3:39 pm

    Hey Philly Jen
    Top points for your for a) getting regular checks b) dealing with the results quickly c) encouraging everyone you know to do the same. Nice job.
    You know you’ll have all the FC crew thinking about you and hoping for the best when time comes to get rid of that little waist of space!

  59. Comment by gomez | 10.31.2010 | 10:38 pm

    Go Philly Jen!
    Kick cancer in the f*****g teeth. Good job getting the mammogram, on behalf of the people in your life. My mom (aged 68 at the time) did too 4 years ago, her first ever, and caught it while dried pea size. She is fine now.

    Well done!!


  60. Comment by GJ Jackie | 11.1.2010 | 1:50 am

    PJ, I’ve been thinking about your post all weekend. You wrote so beautifully about such a traumatic event. My heart is with you, warrior woman!

  61. Comment by Yukirin Boy | 11.1.2010 | 6:39 am

    GO Philly Jen,
    Best wishes for the marathon best wishes too with you lumpectomy.

  62. Comment by Jenni | 11.1.2010 | 7:56 am

    BigBoned- so so sorry (:0(

  63. Comment by Kel | 11.1.2010 | 9:54 am

    Go Warrier!

  64. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 11.1.2010 | 11:17 am

    Good luck, Jen…in the race and in the fight! You are an inspiration. Thank you. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  65. Comment by Haven (KT) | 11.1.2010 | 2:56 pm

    Thanks, Philly Jen, for this post. You are an inspiration to a lot of people, me included!

    Big Boned– my thoughts are with you during this terrible time.

  66. Comment by Philly Jen | 11.1.2010 | 10:35 pm

    Thank you so much for the many messages of support — they gave me a huge lift on marathon morning, and they’ll be my part of my suitcase of courage on Thursday before I head into surgery.

    I was especially gratified to read that several of you will be tackling “deferred maintenance” in the near future. You are the sugar in the lemonade, and a powerful reminder that life is indeed sweet.

    On Sunday, the Marine Corps Marathon was a great experience, with top-flight organization from start to finish. The credit goes to the real-life warriors of the USMC who make it all happen.

    Though I was slower than I had hoped to be, I stayed on my feet and never broke into a walk, even during the last couple of miles when virtually everyone around me was throwing in the towel. And that I owe to you. So again, thanks.

    (You can watch me making scrunched-up, lemon-sucking faces by searching for “Jen” after clicking the “Runner Interviews” link at You can also see me high-fiving my way home, Fat Cyclist water bottle in hand, by clicking the finish-line video link and viewing the footage when the race clock reads 5:45:30-ish.)

  67. Comment by Mayhemnsuz | 11.2.2010 | 4:13 pm

    Philly Jen, will be thinking of you and your suitcase of courage on Thursday – so push that big gear, dance on the pedals, and kick that couch surfing tumor in the a$$.

  68. Comment by Richard | 11.2.2010 | 7:22 pm

    YES! You have this whole attitude thing right in your pocket, Ma’am! And I will be rooting for you all the way!

  69. Comment by Katie | 11.3.2010 | 9:44 am

    You. Go. Girl.

  70. Comment by Swanny | 11.5.2010 | 10:17 am

    My family is praying for you. Strike your pose and kick some butt.


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