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F E AT U R E S 35 Speak Up. Speak Out. Save Lives, She Does.
k / COVER
20 Interesting Facts About The Human Body
Understanding and Surviving
A Tw i c e A s N i c e L i f e
Kids for the Cure Art Presentation
HELPFUL INFO 54
A r k - L a - Te x R e s o u r c e G u i d e
Andra Ayers never dreamed when she left for a trip that her world would drastically change. This courageous woman wants YOU to know what to do when you are traveling to be safe!
Understanding and Surviving Mary Miller’s breast cancer diagnosis made her more aware of her own body. “Our bodies speak to us if we will listen, and this is an important part of my personal story.”
Publisher and Editor / Debbie Brower Associate Editors / Jaclyn Gooding, Miranda Johnson
Photography / Image Forward Photography, Debbie Brower, Jaclyn Gooding, Miranda Johnson, Rozana Page Sales & Marketing Manager / Charlie McMurphy Feature Writers / Jane Bouterse, Anne Fruge
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©2011 ALT Magazine
A Cure. First.
Each and and Every Every One One of of Us Us Each Can Make Make A A Diﬀerence Diﬀerence Can in the the Fight Fight Against Against Breast Breast Cancer. Cancer. in
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by Jane Bouterse
he carefully closed the lid of her overstuffed luggage without realizing that she was also closing a significant chapter in her life. After today, nothing about her would ever be quite the same again. “Tommie,” she called to her husband , “Please put this bag in the car for me before you leave?” He interrupted his preparations for work to obligingly comply. Once her packing was completed, the meticulous Andra straightened the house a bit until it was time for both of the Ayers to say their good-byes and go to their respective jobs: she to Cossatot Community College, University of Arkansas, Human Resources; he, to Weyerhauser, accounting. This was a daily routine familiar and important to Tommie and Andra Ayers. Even as they departed, the world which surrounded their comfortable DeQueen, Arkansas, home on this August 4, 1999, appeared unchanged from the day before and the day before that. Today, however, Andra was anticipating the opportunity her day promised. She and a colleague were headed to Memphis, Tennessee, www.alt-mag.com
for a meeting about community college insurance programs. The drive to Memphis was only some 305 miles—long enough but not too long. The scenery was beautiful. DeQueen and Sevier County boasted three 1,000 acre plus Army Corps of Engineers lakes—DeQueen, Dierks and Gilham, and nearby was not only the Ouachita National Forest but also the Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge. Completing this idyllic setting was the swiftly flowing Cossatot River close at hand—lots of water, rolling hills and verdant forests which could be enjoyed almost all the way to Memphis.
The trip to Memphis provided a variety of scenes from forest greenery to the browns of flat farmland but proved as untroubled as she had imagined it would be. She arrived safely in Memphis, located the Peabody and checked in much earlier than others attending the conference. Andra decided to settle into her room and enjoy some of the luxury of the 1869 hotel’s recent renovation. She was assigned a fifth floor room but had to watch the famous Peabody ducks (1 Mallard drake and 4 hens) play in their Italian travertine marble fountain before heading toward the elevator.
“Be cautious. Remember a person does not have to look like a bum to be an assailant.”
To top it off, Andra could anticipate many pleasant miles of good conversation with her colleague as they traveled toward their destination, the legendary Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. The more she thought about the next few days, the more excited she became. However, her spirits were dampened by her arrival at the Cossatot Community College campus when she discovered her traveling companion was ill. “That’s OK,” thought Andra. “I’ll still attend the meeting. I’ve traveled alone before and don’t mind at all.” So…into the car she gets and off she goes.
Once situated in her room near the end of the hallway, Andra was so comfortable she decided not to leave until she had to. She ordered her dinner from Room Service and proceeded to do some unpacking. Shortly afterward, a knock at the door announced the arrival of her meal. After looking through the door’s peephole, Andra opened the door to a rather unpleasant hotel attendant, stranger to a smile or a pleasant word. The woman left the cart and departed. Although surprised at the employee’s demeanor, Andra did not allow the server’s irritable temperament to diminish her pleasure in the tasty meal.
The evening moved along smoothly for Andra until about 8:30 p.m. when there was an unexpected knock on the door. The knock not only startled her but aroused her suspicions immediately. Once more—to the door and the peephole. This time she was able to see a clean-cut, well groomed and smiling young man, perhaps between 18 and 20, dressed in very neat shorts and shirt and holding a vase of flowers. He confidently announced that he had been sent by the hotel to replace the flowers in her room. Actually, Andra had not noticed whether there were flowers in her room, but for a hotel as accommodating to its guests as the Peabody, fresh flowers would have been in order. She paused for a moment, then stood by the door as she opened it and waited for the flowers to be brought into the room. The young man entered through the wide open door, threw away the flowers and grabbed Andra in a choke hold from which she could not escape. She yelled as best she could, “Take my purse and money.” Then she passed out. The door was still open, but the young man had obviously chosen his victim carefully. He knew that Andra was the only occupant of the entire wing, and there were no security cameras. There was no one—nor would there be anyone in the hallway-- to help her. “When I came to,“ she explains, “I was on my back on the floor, and there was extreme pressure on my face with
something. I don’t know what. I remember shouting, ‘In the name of Jesus. In the name of Jesus. In the name of Jesus.’ –three times, then I passed out again.” Andra never had any idea of how long she was unconscious, but when she came to this time, the room was different. She was still on the floor and could hardly see. Everything that was visible to her blood filled eyes was covered in blood. Her assailant was gone. She knew she had to get to a phone, but she could not get up, so she crawled. When she reached the bedside table, she pulled herself up in the direction of the phone. Moving had not helped her any. She still could not see, and blood was everywhere. “I just started hitting numbers on the phone.” Miraculously, someone on the front desk answered . “I somehow got out ‘I need help’ so that the desk clerk could hear me, then I passed out again.” When Andra awakened, she realized she was surrounded by hotel employees trying to attend her until the EMS personnel arrived. She was immediately
taken to the hospital and the Trauma ICU and tested for rape. When her assailant had entered the room, Andra was still wearing her travel clothes. The intruder had managed during the periods of her blacking out to get her panty hose and panties pulled halfway down her legs. The rape kit proved that the young man apparently had been interrupted before he was able to realize his intentions. The sexual assault was attempted but not successful. In the meantime, Trauma doctors had summoned Andra’s husband Tommie to Memphis. The doctors had only told him Andra had been in an accident; he had no idea what had actually happened to her. When he arrived, as was also the case with other members of the family from all over the country, none of them recognized the bloody, battered and bruised Andra that they found in the Trauma ICU. The most severe injuries had been to her face, which appeared to have been hit repeatedly with a blunt object like a fist or perhaps the vase that had held the flowers. Doctors had determined that her nose was broken; she had suffered an orbital blowout which damaged her eye socket and eye, and she was bruised down to her waist. Nonetheless, the family was grateful that
her physical injuries were repairable. The psychological damage would also have to be dealt with, but they knew Andra was strong in spirit and in faith. For days, Andra was in and out of consciousness, although she does remember the police asking her questions. When it was time for Andra to leave the hospital, Tommie’s employer Weyerhauser provided their corporate jet to bring her home. Their thoughtful generosity made her difficult trip much more safe and comfortable. After the Ayers returned home, they began to take inventory. The assailant had taken her jewelry—her wedding set, a diamond ring and a gold bracelet. He had dumped the contents of her purse, but he had not taken any money. Later, their telephone bill indicated that Tommie had called Andra just to be sure she was okay during the time the assailant was in the room. They guessed he may have been scared away by the ringing phone. Police believed the intruder may not have finished what he had started because he thought she was dead. Pictures of the room revealed a bloody pillow on the floor where Andra had been lying. At some
point, the pillow appears to have been used in an attempt to smother her. The beating she sustained was brutal, as the walls of the room were splashed with blood—Andra’s blood. Many who saw the splattered room commented, “You must have put up a fight!” Although the girl who delivered Room Service was questioned several times without success, there were no other suspects. For several months after the incident, Memphis Police sent Andra pictures of possible assailants, but she was never able to identify her attacker. Today, as far as she and Tommie know, he remains free. The year after the assault, 2000, Andra spent in and out of hospitals with the three surgeries required to repair her injuries. The progress of medicine in skilled hands made it possible to repair her broken nose and to use a Teflon plate to repair the orbit of her eye. Dr. Trone in Texarkana performed those surgeries. In Dallas, Dr. Steve Byrd, a surgeon specializing in reconstructive, aesthetic and craniofacial surgery, used sea coral to rebuild the portion of her face just below her eye’s orbit. Andra continues to suffer from double vision with an extreme upward gaze, so she has learned to move her head rather than her eyes. The right side of her face and lip are still numb, but the rest
of her injuries Mother Nature has repaired. Her physical injuries are not visible, neither are her psychological. But they are there. John Hayes, a Psychiatric Family Nurse Practitioner in Mobile, AL is familiar with trauma, as he has worked with trauma patients in emergency facilities, hospitals and out patient situations. The first point he makes is that responses to trauma are as different as the people who experience it. He emphasizes, also, that people may have immediate responses and/or responses which recur or arise years after the traumatic event has occurred. General reactions may include: depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, a sense of loss of safety and lack of sleep. There may be physical numbness or a sense of detachment, or an avoidance of places that remind the woman of the assault. Hayes reports that according to recent studies, people do tend to either address and acknowledge what has happened or not focus on the trauma at all. Andra Ayers is amazing for a number of reasons. First, within a week or two of her coming home from the hospital, she wanted to get back to work. She wanted to be around people, and “I knew the sooner I got back, the better. My colleagues were very sympathetic, and everyone was supportive of me. ‘Wonderful, wonderful place to work.’” In addition, Edie Barentine, a counselor at Cossatot Community College,
University of Arkansas introduced Andra to a video presentation called “Traveling Alone in America.” Barentine also was “there” for Andra when she endured the inevitable “dips” in her days. Andra is also a woman of faith. Her church family prayed for her during her convalescence and throughout her ordeal. “I never even dreamed about the assault,” Andra observes. “There was one lady in our congregation who prayed specifically that I would not dream about it.” Within a year of her assault, she was asked by a church in neighboring Dierks to tell other women about her experience. According to RAINN (RAPE, ABUSE AND INCEST NATIONAL NETWORK): 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape: 2.8% attempted rape) 17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape. Andra complied with their request by telling the women of her experience, sharing the video that had meant so much to her, and allowing ample time for comments, questions and answers. In addition, she provided them with handouts about “Traveling Alone in America” and “50 Tips for Traveling Alone.” [NOTE: See the Tips for Women Sidebar on
page 44 for a sampling]. Andra admits that her world was changed on that August 4, 1999, day—NEVER to be the same again. She still feels: •
Fearful of being in elevators or small spaces with strangers.
Nervous about getting started when she goes walking. “I try to figure out a place to run.”
Uncomfortable about being alone in some spaces; OK in other spaces.
Afraid of being stranded and what to do.
Very sensitive to her environment.
The consequences of Andra’s experience have affected her family as well. “All of my family have CHLs (Concealed Handgun Licenses),” she admits, “but I don’t want one.” The Ayers’ daughter Erica, who was 27 when her mother was assaulted, has reacted more obviously than her mother. “She is very cautious and not trusting of strangers. We met at the mall the other day, and Erica looked around at the cars in the area where we parked. Some of them were occupied. ‘Don’t park here, Mom. Let’s park somewhere else.’”
Now, Andra never stays in hotels alone. Even when her husband is with her, she props a chair under the doorknob, uses a rubber stopper under the door, and attaches her personal protection alarm to the doorknob. If the doorknob is moved, the alarm sounds. These measures are in addition to the hotel’s double bolt locks and peepholes. She also emphasizes to the women (and occasionally men) to whom she speaks to walk with confidence. “Don’t look like a victim,” she urges. “Be cautious. Remember a person does not have to look like a bum to be an assailant.” For over ten years, Andra Ayers has been speaking up and speaking out in her presentations—a courageous act even now. If you are interested in a presentation to your group, Andra may be contacted at 903-2237447. Her courage and determination have turned her life changing experience into a life saving experience for those who listen. Sexual assault is real and really destructive. Women must protect themselves with as much knowledge as possible. There are so many websites which offer information about sexual assaults and their consequences. Two of the most useful are provided by the U. S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services.
Tips for Women Traveling Alone “It’s a sad fact of life that a woman traveling alone faces more danger than a man. To fight the fear, the Women’s Travel Club—founded in 1992 by Phyllis Stoller—posts its members’ tips on the club’s Web Site:” www.womenstravelclub.com. Or call 800/4804448 or 305/936-9669. Their tips include the following:
away from renovation work, emergency exits or terraces. Have your room key ready when you leave the elevator. Be sure you are not alone on your wing. •
CHOOSING A HOTEL Smaller is smarter: you want the staff to be familiar with guests and with you. Aim for a well-trafficked street (neighborhood restaurants and late-night stores mean traffic). A reception and concierge desk near the entrance, and/or the elevators, provides deterrence. Guests checking in should have privacy. No one should be able to overhear personal information. Look for well lighted parking lots and check the availability of valet parking Be sure the hotel has attendants to walk you to your room late at night. ROOM RULES • Request a room near the elevators and
The door should have double locks—one of which is a dead bolt—and a peephole. BRING along a rubber doorstop for extra security. Consider a portable door alarm for added security.
Verify any strangers knocking on the hotel room door with the front desk.
The DO NOT DISTURB sign can make the room seem occupied. Call housekeeping for cleaning.
Stand near the elevator buttons with your back to the wall; if threatened, push all the buttons
STREET SMARTS o Dress down. Have money divided into small denominations. o Study a map before going out; use a small guidebook. Do not look like a tourist. o Use prepaid phone cards instead of carrying your card number.
o Carry just one credit card and photocopies of important documents o On sidewalks, keep your handbag away from the street side (on escalators, the opposite ramp) o If attacked, yell as loud as possible. TRANSPORTATION SAVVY Use covered luggage tags. Instead of home address, write office address. In public restrooms, use the corner stall. Exit a taxi only after you have reached your destination. Pay while still in the car Put your foot through the strap of any luggage or handbag placed on the floor in a public place. In your car, keep items out of sight (especially maps and guidebooks) When possible, park so you won’t have to back out. It makes for a speedier departure. Once inside your vehicle, lock all doors immediately. Keep doors locked while driving.
Brain 1. The human brain cell can hold 5 times as much information as the Encyclopedia Britannica. Or any other encyclopedia for that matter. Scientists have yet to settle on a definitive amount, but the storage capacity of the brain in electronic terms is thought to be between 3 or even 1,000 terabytes. The National Archives of Britain, containing over 900 years of history, only takes up 70 terabytes, making your brain’s memory power pretty darn impressive. 2. The brain itself cannot feel pain. While the brain might be the pain center when you cut your finger or burn yourself, the brain itself does not have pain receptors and cannot feel pain. That doesn’t mean your head can’t hurt. The brain is surrounded by loads of tissues, nerves and blood vessels that are plenty receptive to pain and can give you a pounding headache.
dissolving the pizza you had for dinner but can also eat through many types of metal.
Bodily Functions 1. Women blink twice as many times as men do. That’s a lot of blinking every day. The average person, man or woman, blinks about 13 times a minute. 2. During your lifetime, you will produce enough saliva to fill two swimming pools. Saliva plays an important part in beginning the digestive process and keeping the mouth lubricated, and your mouth produces quite a bit of it on a daily basis.
Hair and Nails
1. After eating too much, your hearing is less sharp. If you’re heading to a concert or a musical after a big meal you may be doing yourself a disservice. Try eating a smaller meal if you need to keep your hearing pitch perfect.
1. One human hair can support 3.5 ounces. That’s about the weight of two full size candy bars, and with hundreds of thousands of hairs on the human head, makes the tale of Rapunzel much more plausible.
2. If saliva cannot dissolve something, you cannot taste it. In order for foods, or anything else, to have a taste, chemicals from the substance must be dissolved by saliva. If you don’t believe it, try drying off your tongue before tasting something.
2. The fastest growing nail is on the middle finger. And the nail on the middle finger of your dominant hand will grow the fastest of all. Why is not entirely known, but nail growth is related to the length of the finger, with the longest fingers growing nails the fastest and shortest the slowest.
Aging and Death
Internal Organs 1. The surface area of a human lung is equal to a tennis court. In order to more efficiently oxygenate the blood, the lungs are filled with thousands of branching bronchi and tiny, grapelike alveoli. These are filled with microscopic capillaries which oxygen and carbon dioxide. The large amount of surface area makes it easier for this exchange to take place, and makes sure you stay properly oxygenated at all times. 2. The acid in your stomach is strong enough to dissolve razorblades. While you certainly shouldn’t test the fortitude of your stomach by eating a razorblade or any other metal object for that matter, the acids that digest the food you eat aren’t to be taken lightly. Hydrochloric acid, the type found in your stomach, is not only good at
1. Your eyes are always the same size from birth but your nose and ears never stop growing. When babies look up at you with those big eyes, they’re the same size that they’ll be carrying around in their bodies for the rest of their lives. Their ears and nose, however, will grow throughout their lives and research has shown that growth peaks in seven year cycles. 2. Nails and hair do not continue to grow after we die. They do appear longer when we die, however, as the skin dehydrates and pulls back from the nail beds and scalp.
Disease and Injury 1. Monday is the day of the week when the risk of heart attack is greatest. Yet another reason to loathe Mondays! A ten year study in Scotland found that 20% more people die of heart attacks on Mondays than any other day of the week. Researchers theorize that it’s a combination of too much fun over the weekend with the stress of going back to work that causes the increase.
2. A simple, moderately severe sunburn damages the blood vessels extensively. How extensively? Studies have shown that it can take four to fifteen months for them to return to their normal condition. Consider that the next time you’re feeling too lazy to apply sunscreen before heading outside.
Muscles and Bones 1. You use 200 muscles to take one step. Depending on how you divide up muscle groups, just to take a single step you use somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 muscles. That’s a lot of work for the muscles considering most of us take about 10,000 steps a day. 2. The feet account for one quarter of all the human body’s bones. You may not give your feet much thought but they are home to more bones than any other part of your body. How many? Of the two hundred or so bones in the body, the feet contain a whopping 52 of them.
Microscopic Level 1. About 32 million bacteria call every inch of your skin home. Germaphobes don’t need to worry however, as a majority of these are entirely harmless and some are even helpful in maintaining a healthy body. 2. Your body has enough iron in it to make a nail 3 inches long. Anyone who has ever tasted blood knows that it has a slightly metallic taste. This is due to the high levels of iron in the blood. If you were to take all of this iron out of the body, you’d have enough to make a small nail and very severe anemia.
Miscellaneous 1. The colder the room you sleep in, the better the chances are that you’ll have a bad dream. It isn’t entirely clear to scientists why this is the case, but if you are opposed to having nightmares you might want to keep yourself a little toastier at night. 2. Your body gives off enough heat in 30 minutes to bring half a gallon of water to a boil. If you’ve seen the Matrix you are aware of the energy potentially generated by the human body. Our bodies expend a large amount of calories keeping us at a steady 98.6 degrees, enough to boil water or even cook pasta.
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by Anne Fruge
ary Miller was on the search for a mission, a cause, a passion in her life. However, the search took a drastic turn causing Mary to have to rely on faith. “I was telling God what I wanted to do,” Mary says. “I was trying to explain to Him what I wanted to do in my church for Him, but He had something very different in mind.” When Mary faced and beat breast cancer, she was already working in the CHRISTUS St. Michael’s Cancer Center. She was facilitating a group for breast cancer survivors and was serving as the Breast and Cervical Cancer Outreach Coordinator. “What God had in mind for my mission was exactly where he placed me in my work,” Mary says. “I was very dedicated to it even before this happened to me personally. Now I know that this experience is something that God will use, and I hope my story inspires other women, whether they have cancer or not, to be their own advocate, to listen to their bodies, and hopefully we can save more lives.” Mary is a licensed clinical social worker with a degree from Texarkana Women’s University and a master’s with advanced clinical hours from University of Texas in Arlington. Mary and her husband, John Miller, and their www.alt-mag.com
four children moved from the Dallas area to Texarkana in 1991 after she was recruited for a local health care facility. Mary started working for St. Michael’s in 1998, and in St. Michael’s Cancer Center in 2000.
program is certainly a great example of the mission of the sisters of charity. One of Saint Michael’s goals is to reach out to the needs of the community, and we are able to do that through this program.”
“My job is so rewarding,” Mary says. “Cancer is not a death sentence anymore. We have a lot of success through treatment and a lot more options than ever before. Especially in our environment, we get to know our patients over periods of weeks and months, and we build strong relationships with family and patients. I’ve learned so much from them.”
Mary also helps with a breast health symposium which is in its third year at Texarkana College. The College partners with UAMS-AHEC SW and Komen to put on the symposium, and since Mary’s son, Gary Miller, is the Director of Community Outreach
screenings should start at age 35. She is also a strong proponent of self-checks. “Our bodies speak to us if we will listen, and this is an important part of my personal story,” Mary says. “I tell women to check themselves every month at the same time of the month, and if they feel something that seems abnormal, get it checked out! We have to be an advocate for our own health.” In addition to breast cancer patients, Mary also works with all cancer patients in the cancer center. As a social worker, she is concerned that the patients’ psyche-social needs are being met: How are they coping? How is the family coping? Are they getting the information they need to make decisions? Are they able to communicate with the doctors? Are they in a safe environment? Do they need transportation for treatment? They also provide wigs, prosthetics and other cosmetic needs for cancer patients.
“Our bodies speak to us if we will listen, and this is an important part of my personal story.”
When she first started her job, she was asked to head the Breast and Cervical Cancer Outreach program. They had a small grant from the Komen foundation at the time and were able to serve around 300 women in the first year. They were then named the grantee of the Texas Breast and Cervical Care Services grant which allowed them to provide more breast and cervical cancer screenings. Through their efforts, they also increased their Komen grant and were able to serve over 900 women last year.
“We spend a lot of time in the community doing educational programs,” Mary says. “We try to educate women on the importance of screenings and keeping up with their appointments. Early detection and treatment is the key to survival. Plus, the outreach
at AHEC, she is able to work with him on the event. “It has been so great to plan and work with him since this is such a great passion for me,” Mary says. “It’s been great to share that with him, and it’s great to spread the message in our community on the importance of annual checkups and mammograms.” Mary says that most women do not realize that they should start having annual mammograms at age 40, but with a strong family history of breast cancer, these
“Through this whole traumatic process, we want our patients to feel good about themselves,” Mary says. “As counselors, we are looking at the whole person in their environment and how they are intertwined, and I feel that St. Michael’s does a great job of trying to meet our patients’ needs as they face a hard time in their lives.” Mary practices what she preaches and had
been very consistent with her exams and mammograms when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In August of 2009, Mary had an annual mammogram and it came back negative. However, during a routine selfcheck, Mary discovered some tenderness in her breast in October of that same year. She knew that she shouldn’t ignore it, so she called the doctor and asked for an ultrasound. “All of us, the doctors and my family are thinking, ‘This is just a fluke! She just had a mammogram,’” Mary says. “However the ultra sound showed a shadow.” In December, Mary had a biopsy and the results showed a mammary ductal carcinoma. It had spread and was in her lymphnodes as well. Mary had surgery in January and Dr. Dennis O’Bannon “thoroughly and diligently” got all the areas that needed to be addressed. “I feel like my recovery started from the moment I had the surgery,” Mary says. “I had a great surgeon in Dr. Dennis O’Bannion, right here in Texarkana, and a lot of people think that they have to go to Dallas or Shreveport to get the same wonderful services that we have here.” In late March, Mary started chemotherapy with Dr. J.D. Patel, a medical oncologist at St. Michael’s. Knowing that she was going to lose all her hair, her husband offered to shave it for her.
getting breast cancer to get closer to them. She made sure and set them straight with, “I didn’t want to get that close!” “Being diagnosed really took me aback,” Mary says. “I had been so diligent and stayed on top of everything. I had to step back and say, ‘Ok God, what is the purpose in this? What do you want me to do with this?’ Now I tell women all across our area to be a self-advocate. Many women would have just excused what I found in my self-exam, but you have to be diligent and ask for what you need.” Through the process, Mary found strength in her faith, the support of her co-workers, the love of her children and ten grandchildren, her church and red hat sisters. On her last visit in June 2010, Dr. Engstrom ordered a pet-scan and it came back negative. Since then, Mary does a battery of blood tests to check for tumor markers and continues to do self-checks. “Facing a life-threatening illness changes you,” Mary says. “I knew that from my work with cancer patients, but didn’t truly understand until I faced it myself. My priorities changed. My world view changed. Now, I don’t just plan for the future, I live for every day and try to enjoy every day. I try to live by faith. The entire experience was a journey in faith, and I hope the story of my journey helps and inspires others.”
“I wanted to make it through Easter with my own hair,” Mary says. “But the Monday after Easter, my husband shaved it for me and it was hilarious. He would NOT let me cry and we ended up laughing the whole time. I had a wig for a while, but eventually invested in some large hoop earrings and a cap. I finally realized what a lot of people in the breast cancer support group at St. Michael’s were talking about. Sometimes the extra effort, getting out of bed and putting on make-up, finding a wig you love or getting dressed when you don’t feel like it, can make all the difference.” When Dr. Patel went on sabbatical, Dr. Gary Engstrom finished her chemotherapy treatments and then she started radiation with Dr. Howard Morris at St. Michael’s. “I found it a great comfort that I was already familiar with all the doctors and the surroundings,” Mary says. “I had faith and confidence because I know I was getting the best care available. I knew that I didn’t have to leave the support of my church, family, friends and co-workers to get high quality treatment, and the staff really stood behind me. I would go from being a patient to working there from one day to the next, and they were all positive and uplifting.” The first time Mary facilitated the next support group meeting after her surgery, the women there jokingly accused Mary of www.alt-mag.com
by Jane Bouterse
“Miracles for Meredith” appeared in the April 2008 ALT and tells a remarkable story. The article begins: “How can balloons, wooden angels poised for flight, Disneyworld, a black Pomeranian and dual DNA be intertwined? Connections are no problem for 13 year old Meredith Victoria Purtle, now a 7th grader at Queen City Middle School in Queen City, Texas. Meredith’s journey to this significant time in her life has included more challenges than most people ever have to experience. However, with the devoted care of her mom, Pam; dad, Jeff and brother, Garrett— with whom she occasionally argues—Meredith is anticipating the dates and dances, concerts and conversations any teenager so values.” Meredith’s challenges began at age two and a half when this usually active child became listless and began running high fever. Repeated lab tests revealed she had “..spiked high temperature and pneumonia in her lung’s upper left lobe. Both her spleen and liver were enlarged; platelets were low, white blood count was high. She also had tiny red spots—Petechiae—all over her body, a sign of low platelet count and bruising.” The diagnosis was acute lymphocytic leukemia, ALL [cancer of the white blood cells], a disease with an 85% cure rate when treated immediately. No time was wasted. The Purtle Family began what would become an all-too-familiar journey to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. Meredith’s oncologist explained to the stunned parents that chemotherapy for two and one-half years was the basic prescription, lumbar punctures and bone marrow aspirations were also required along with hospital visits of various lengths. “But Meredith and her family made it through the years of treatment and rejoiced when the doctors pronounced the leukemia in remission. A now 5 year old Meredith was able to get on with her life. For 18 months, the family celebrated;
however, in April 2001, the cancer returned. Another 2 1/2 years of chemotherapy followed—this time stronger with more noticeable effects. Treatments end, and doctors pronounce Meredith a healthy 7 year old. Thanksgiving, November 2004, Meredith’s check-up had to be completed before the family’s anticipated camping trip. “Something is just not right,” doctors declared. Ultimately, the determination was that a bone marrow transplant was the only alternative to treat the now active cancer. When no bone marrow match
first birthday and can be easily identified; her blood DNA is the DNA of her second— stem cell—birthday and is not traceable.” September 13, 2011, Meredith celebrated her 17th birthday. Now a junior in Queen City High School, she continues to experience twice as nice moments. For example, her academic achievements have earned her membership in the National Junior Honor Society and the National Honor Society. Her special friends Tristen and Isabella (Izzy) join her in sleepovers peppered by lots of conversations and
toddlers in Calvary Tabernacle’s nursery. Chloe, her black Pomeranian, still depends on Meredith and has inspired her to join the school’s FFA chapter to be more involved with animals. Physical therapist for animals or veterinarian loom large in the goals she has set for herself. Somehow she still manages to find time for Chris and those dates she dreamed of having. Meredith Purtle is living her life—a life she and her family have fought for with courage and determination, medical science and knowledgeable caretakers, prayer and
Meredith Purtle is living her life—a life she and her family have fought for with courage and determination, medical science and knowledgeable caretakers, prayer and faith, plus a little bit of miracle. could be found for Meredith, the Purtles hastily packed their bags—this time headed for Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, and their last alternative—a stem cell transplant. This was November; they had until February to find a match. A perfect stem cell transplant matches recipient and donor in six ways, but a cord will work if the ratio is 6:4. In January, the brutal treatment for the stem cell transplant began. On March 22, 2005, the umbilical cord from a healthy HispanicCaucasian baby was found to be a 6:4 match for Meredith. The match was found just one day before the expiration date of the cord’s usefulness. In 20 minutes, the red cells were infused into the prepared Meredith, and the tortuous waiting began. Three weeks into the post treatment, Meredith developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and had to be placed in Pediatric ICU. Nothing the post treatment team did was working, so Pam contacted their Calvary Tabernacle Church for prayers. Church members, just as they had throughout Meredith’s eight years + battle, rallied. By Saturday morning, the doctors were in awe, “We don’t understand this. She’s getting better and better.” In a week, Meredith was walking and back in her original unit. Meredith’s earlier than anticipated return home was welcomed, but for months her compromised immune system required that she be protected from possible infections. The entire school year had been lost, but San Antonio and Queen City teachers had closed the gap. In 2006, one year after her transplant, Meredith got to be “normal.” The 13 years of her life had been filled with more crises, doctors, medicines, and hospitals than most people know in a lifetime, but she still easily shared her shy, beautiful smile and shrugged as though “it’s all in a day’s work.” Meredith is unique in several ways. She celebrates two birthdays every year: September 13 is her biological birthday; March 22, the birth provided by her transplant. Her life is marked by a before stem cells period and a twice as nice after stem cells. Meredith has dual DNAs: the DNA in her saliva will be the DNA from her
games like Twister and Bop-It. These three quieter girls have laughter and surprise added to their get-togethers made twice as nice by an adventurous, unpredictable Kristen. Meredith has no time these days to remember the pain of the past. Her Nissan chariot takes her wherever she wishes to drive, and that’s most often to school for band practice. She plays trumpet in the Queen City HS Band, a two time State Champion, now working toward their third victory, while she also performs with the school’s Color Guard. Sandwiched between her eight classes, she works as an office aid, and every other Sunday cares for the
faith plus a little bit of miracle. “Miracles for Meredith” continue to happen for this beautiful brown eyed ash blonde with the slightly tanned look now a healthy 5 feet 3 inches tall. She carries her 119 pounds with confidence and continues to smile—a stunning reminder of the power of family, friends and faith in both a Spiritual Power and medical science. Meredith’s life is at least twice as nice as she and her family ever hoped it could be! To keep track of Meredith and her family, visit: www.caringbridge.org/visit/meredithpurtle
Kids for the Cure Art Presentation
1. Members from the 2011 Race committee 2. Tonya Davis and Terrie Arnold 3. Pam Beck, Julie Sanderson and DeAnn Goings 4. LeAnne Wright, Tonya Davis, Linley Murdock and Christy Walls 5. Laurie Hearn, Stephanie Murdock, Linley Murdock and Brad Murdock 6. Linley Murdock with TMS Art Teacher Shea Phillips
Texas Middle School
by Dustin Stringer Stringer Wealth Management LPL Financial www.stringerwealthmanagement.net
Proper Financial Planning: Critical for Women
key goal of investing for retirement is making sure you save enough to make your money last throughout your lifetime. On this score, women may need to save more than men. The current life expectancy of a female at birth is almost 81 years, compared with 75 years for a male.1 Although six years may not appear significant, many people in this age group incur expenses for health care and other items while living off of Social Security and personal assets. Keep in mind that life expectancy statistics are averages and many people live much longer. It is not unusual for an individual’s retirement to last 20 or 30 years or more. There is also the issue of the length of a person’s career and how much time an individual has to build retirement assets. Many women take time off for care giving responsibilities, and during these years they may not add to their retirement portfolio. In addition, time off from work may affect Social Security benefits because those who are not working do not earn credits that are used to determine retirement benefits. Also, parents, children, and other loved ones often have financial needs, and both women and men may provide help for family members, which may divert funds from retirement savings. Estimating How Much You’ll Need Of course, every woman’s life is unique and many women capitalize on the benefits available to them, including participating in an employer-sponsored retirement plan or funding an IRA, to build the assets needed for their later years. It’s important not to underestimate how much you may need or the importance of ongoing contributions to retirement accounts to build assets over time. Although there are no guarantees, the longer you stay invested, the more likely that your contributions may benefit from compounding, when investment gains are reinvested and potentially earn even more over time. Your financial advisor can help you calculate how much you are likely to need for your later years. Be sure to consider how you will pay for health care expenses not covered by Medicare or other medical insurance. When considering sources of retirement income, log on to www.ssa.gov or review your annual statement to estimate your retirement benefit from Social Security. If you find that your retirement assets are coming up
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short, delaying retirement or saving more while you continue to work may be helpful strategies. Source: Center for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Financial Communications or its sources, neither Financial Communications nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall Financial Communications be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber’s or others’ use of the content. © 2011 McGraw-Hill Financial Communications. All rights reserved. This article is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for and individual. Consult your financial advisor, or me, if you have any questions. Stringer Wealth Management and LPL Financial are not estate planners and cannot provide tax or legal advice.
Air and Heating Central Air 450 S. Kings Highway Texarkana, TX 75501 903.832.1212
Gayle’s 4059 Summerhill Square Texarkana, TX 903.792.0056
Julie’s Deli 4055 Summerhill Sq. Texarkana, TX 903.792.3354
1615 N. Hervey Hope, AR 124 N. Loop Highway 59 Atlanta, TX
Kraus Heating and Air 200 Industrial Blvd. Nash, TX 903.831.3912
Banks Guaranty Bond Bank 2202 St. Michael Dr. Texarkana, TX 903.792.8600
Reception Arts Becky Risinger Ashdown, AR 870.898.5273
Apartments Legacy at Pleasant Grove 5911 Richmond Rd. Texarkana, TX 888.763.2676
Red River Federal Credit Union 2700A University Ave. Texarkana, TX 75503 903-735-3000 800-822-3317
Wingstop 2700 Richmond Road, Suite 14A1 Texarkana, TX 903.255.0090 4501 N. State Line, No. 106 Texarkana, TX 903.792.9464
Richmond Oaks Apartments 2815 Richmond Rd. Texarkana, TX 903.832.6150
Texar Federal Credit Union Richmond Rd. Texarkana, TX 903.223.5626
Summerhill Woods Apartments 4501 Summerhill Rd. Texarkana, TX 903.793.7888 Westwood Apartments 101 Redwater Rd. Wake Village, TX 903.832.8446 Attire Abby Gayle’s 4012 Summerhill Square Texarkana, TX 903.792.0088
Texarkana First Bank 3601 East 9th St. Texarkana, AR 870.772.0222 615 Sam Houston Dr. New Boston, TX 3625 Richmond Rd. Texarkana, TX 903.793.6955 Cakes Coldstone Creamery 4228 St. Michael Dr. Texarkana, TX 903.838.2653
Caterers Culinary Creations Pam Elliott 903.831.4674 Fuzzy’s Tacos 4809 Texas Blvd. Texarkana, TX 903.791.8226
Clothing Abby Gayle’s 4012 Summerhill Square Texarkana, TX 903.792.0088
Julie’s Deli 4055 Summerhill Sq. Texarkana, TX 903.792.3354
Gayle’s 4059 Summerhill Square Texarkana, TX 903.792.0056
Smokey Joe’s BBQ 300 W. New Boston Road Nash, TX 903.223.8227
Dry Cleaning Holiday Cleaners Locations throughout Texarkana Area 870.773.4072
Wendy’s 4201 Stateline Avenue Texarkana, TX 2902 Richmond Road Texarkana, TX 3737 New Boston Road Texarkana, TX
Event Locations Prissy Chrissy Ranch 915 FM 2148 South Texarkana, TX 75501 903.838.6121 www.prissychrissy.com
Regional Arts Center Cabe Hall 321 W. 4th Street Texarkana, TX 75501 903.792.8681 www.trahc.org Financial Planner Dustin Stringer Stringer Wealth Management 210 N. Stateline, Suite 204A Texarkana, AR 870.216.0089 Fitness Centers Anytime Fitness Richmond Road 3415 Richmond Road. Texarkana, TX 75503 903.794.5348 Minton’s Sportsplex 5610 Richmond Road Texarkana, TX 903.838.4697 Florists Queen City Floral Highway 59 North Queen City, TX 903.796.2891 Ruth’s Flowers 3501 Texas Bllvd. Texarkana, TX 903.793.6711 www.ruthsflowers.net Twisted Vines 406 N. Stateline Avenue Texarkana, AR 870-772-2700 Furniture Oak Creek Furniture 8024 West 7th St. Texarkana, TX 903.832.0793
Style Studio Lisa Harris 3201 Kennedy Lane Texarkana, TX 903.223.1719 Home Designs/Remodeling Taylored Home Solutions 2840 Richmond Rd. Texarkana, TX 903.278.2353 Hospice Dierksen Hospice 6500 N. Summerhill Road, Suite 2B Texarkana, TX 903.793.6350 Hospitals Christus St. Michael Health System 2600 St. Michael Dr. Texarkana, TX 903.614.1000 Health South Rehabilitation 515 West 12th St. Texarkana, TX 903.793.0088 Wadley Hospital 1000 Pine St. Texarkana, TX 903.798.8000 Hotels Clarion Lacross Hotel 5100 N. Stateline Ave. Texarkana, AR 870.774.3521 www.lacrosse-hotel.com Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott 4209 Mall Dr. Texarkana, TX 903.838.1000
Insurance Brian Purtle Allstate Insurance 3301 Richmond Rd. Texarkana, TX 903.832.5881 Elite Insurance Tammy McDowell 1705 N. Kings Highway Nash, TX 903.794.0000 Farm Bureau Insurance 4140 McKnight Rd. Texarkana, TX 903.838.8707
Jewelers Alexander’s Jewelers 3701 Mall Drive Texarkana, TX 903.832.3557 Blue Isle Expressions 3402 Richmond Road Texarkana, TX 903.791.9992 Micah’s Jewelers 2812 Richmond Road Texarkana, TX 903.735.2336
Greg Cockerell State Farm Insurance 4807 Texas Blvd. Texarkana, TX 75503 903.793.7502 Kelli Ashbrook State Farm Insurance 3410 Moores Lane Texarkana, TX 75503 903.223.8100 www.kelliashbrook.com Kristi Smith State Farm Insurance 418 Walton Drive Texarkana, TX 903.223.3276 Ron Morrow State Farm Insurance 3306 Richmond Rd. Texarkana, TX 75503 903.832.5505 www.ronmorrowagency. com
Gifts Dot’s Ace Hardware 3411 Richmond Rd. Texarkana, TX 903.838.0059 Lane’s Gifts & Collectibles 720 Realtor Ave. Texarkana, AR 870.773.2123 Queen City Floral Highway 59 North Queen City, TX 903.796.2891 Twisted Vines 406 N. Stateline Avenue Texarkana, AR 870-772-2700 Guns and Ammunition P&J Guns Jeff and Pam Cliften 248 E. New Boston Rd. Nash, TX 75569 903.293.4867 Hair Care Headmasters Hair Salon 3703 Mall Drive Texarkana, TX 903.832.6261
Make-up Gayle’s 4059 Summerhill Square Texarkana, TX 903.792.0056 Salon Visage Esthetique Mary Ann Robbins 4506 Summerhill Rd. Texarkana, TX 903.794.4007 Sanctuary Kimberly Parham, M.D. 3502 Richmond Road Texarkana, TX 75503 903.334.8661 Medical Equipment Respiratory Solutions 3101 Kennedy Lane, Suite 1000 Texarkana, TX 75503 903.793.2110 Photographer Image Forward Photography 200 Heather Dr. Texarkana, TX 75501 903.334.9605 www.imageforwardtxk.com Physicians Express Care 5483 Summerhill Road Texarkana, TX 75503 903.223.5931
Ly Gaylor, M.D. Dermatologist Collom & Carney Clinic 5002 Cowhorn Creek Road Texarkana, TX 75503 903.614.3006
Connie Walker Coldwell Banker United 3001 Richmond Road Texarkana, TX 903.277.0100 903.832.2486
Trevor Swanson, D.C. Advanced Spine, Sports & Rehab 4206 Richmond Place Texarkana, TX 903.792.2060 806 West Main St. Atlanta, TX 903.796.2060
Impact Realty Bill and Tracy Spradlin 1200 N. Kings Hwy., Suite 104 Nash, TX 903.748.3186 903.748.2477
Mark Wren, M.D. Physiatrist 3510 Richmond Road, Suite 400 Texarkana, TX 75503 903.831.6275 Vision Source 4401 Morris Lane Texarkana, TX 903.838.9063 Plumbing Central Air/Roto Rooter 450 S. Kings Highway Texarkana, TX 75501 903.832.1212 Real Estate Columbia Property Management 4425 Jefferson Avenue #108 Texarkana, AR 71854 870.772.2080
Teresa Liepman Remax 5120 Summerhill Rd. Texarkana, TX 75503 903.276.9464 Refreshments Bolls Distributing 700 E. Broad St. Texarkana, AR 870.774.9283 Rentals Big Event / Atlas Game Room 2837 New Boston Rd. Texarkana, TX 903.334.7444 Bounce-A-Lot 903.276.2961 www.bounce-a-lot.org Dot’s Rentals 814 N. Robison Road Texarkana, TX 75501 903.792.7011 3413 Richmond Rd. Texarkana, TX 903.838.0551 Lone Star Amusements 903.949.5802 Twisted Vines 406 N. Stateline Avenue Texarkana, AR 870-772-2700 Restaurants Amigo Juan Mexican Cafe 2004 Hampton Rd. Texarkana, TX 903.794.2300 4301 Morris Lane Texarkana, TX 903.334.6971 1200 N. Hervey Hope, AR 870.777.0006 611 Loop 59 Atlanta, TX 903.796.2400 Coldstone Creamery 4228 St. Michael Dr. Texarkana, TX 903.838.2653 Daddy Dougaloo’s 905 New Boston Road Texarkana, TX 75503 903.791.0172
Dairy Queen Locations throughout Ark-La-Tex Fuzzy’s Tacos 4809 Texas Blvd. Texarkana, TX 903.791.8226 Golden Corral 3809 Sowell Lane Texarkana, TX 903.334.8399 Ironwood Grill 4312 Moores Lane Texarkana, TX 903.223.4644 Julie’s Deli 4055 Summerhill Sq. Texarkana, TX 903.792.3354 Los Agaves 5100 N. Stateline Ave. Texarkana, AR 870.773.2300 Pop’s Place Highway 67 Texarkana, AR 870.773.4887 Shorty’s Donuts 2729 New Boston Road Texarkana, TX 75501 903.832.6686 Smokey Joe’s BBQ 300 W. New Boston Road Nash, TX 903.223.8227 Tasty Donuts 1443 N. Kings Highway Nash, TX 903.838.0422 Wendy’s 4201 Stateline Avenue Texarkana, TX 2902 Richmond Road Texarkana, TX 3737 New Boston Road Texarkana, TX 1615 N. Hervey Hope, AR 124 N. Loop Highway 59 Atlanta, TX Wingstop 2700 Richmond Road, Suite 14A1 Texarkana, TX 903.255.0090 4501 N. State Line, No. 106 Texarkana, TX 903.792.9464 Retirement/Assisted Living Home Cornerstone Retirement Community 4100 Moores Lane Texarkana, TX 903.832.5515 Spas/Salons All About You Diana Gregory/Lori Campbell 4100 Summerhill Sq. Texarkana, TX 903.792.7775
Salon Visage Esthetique Mary Ann Robbins 4506 Summerhill Rd. Texarkana, TX 903.794.4007 The Sanctuary Kimberly Parham, M.D. 3502 Richmond Road Texarkana, TX 75503 903.334.8661
Wedding Officiant Jeff Taylor 903.733.6347 firstname.lastname@example.org Wedding Planners Abracadabra Wedding and Event Planning Debra Mason, Event Coordinator 903.748.4838 email@example.com
Sporting Goods Baits and Blades 3302 Richmond Rd. Texarkana, TX 903.832.4545
Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Locations Julie’s Deli 4055 Summerhill Sq. Texarkana, TX 903.792.3354
Wedding Attire Bridal Castle 3209 Kennedy Lane Texarkana, TX 903.838.3886
Smokey Joe’s BBQ 300 W. New Boston Road Nash, TX 903.223.8227
Wedding Coordinators Abracadabra Wedding and Event Planning Debra Mason, Event Coordinator 903.748.4838 firstname.lastname@example.org
Weight Loss All About You Diana Gregory/Lori Campbell 4100 Summerhill Sq. Texarkana, TX 903.792.7775
Wedding Favors Pop Pop Shoppe 2011 Mall Drive, Suite B Texarkana, TX 903.793.0209
Richmond Nutrition 3316 Richmond Road Texarkana, TX 903.832.0437