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Breast Cancer Awareness THE LEADER. Page 1B • October 4, 2012 •


Every life is touched in efforts to beat this terrible disease S o much pink, so much positivity about a deadly disease. Is the annualO ctoberBreastC ancerAwareness month in danger of becoming an overworn pitch, a cliche? We at The Leader hope not. Because beneath the ribbons and the commercialization, there dwells a deep human connection to thissadly common affl iction that transcendstrivialization.Who among us doesn’t have a loved one, a friend, a co-worker or teacher who has

faced the diagnosis of breast cancer? With this section, we’re not trying to break any new ground.We are providing

basic information about susceptibility, prevention, symptoms, screening and treatment and a nice listing of businesses and medical sources who are observing this month with special programs in our neighborhoods – but there are doctors,researchers,organizationsand the Internet to help you with a detailed quest for knowledge. W hat we are offering are profoundly human stories about your neighbors – from all walks of life – who are living

with or have (hopefully) conquered this frightening disease. From Ellen C ohen, whose battle as a young mother more than 40 years ago was fought in the shadows without modern resources, to your neighbors today who fi nd medical advances and emotional support readily available,we believe you’ll fi nd their journeys compelling and inspirational. The Leader is donating 10 percent of itsadvertising revenue from thisspecial

Ready, set, Race for the Cure Komen race already has 33,000 participants ready to run this year The Houston Affi liate of Susan G .Komen for the C ure will kickoff NationalBreastC ancerAwarenessMonth by hosting the largest footrace in the city,the 22nd AnnualKomen Houston Raceforthe C ure®, O ct. 6 downtown. Last year’s event welcomed over 33,000 participants,including more than 2,400 breast cancer survivors,and raised more than $4 million for breast cancer research education,screening and treatment programs. Thisyear’sRace,sponsored locally by M arathon O il C orporation,hopes to raise more than $4 million to be used right here in SoutheastTexasforresearch,education,screening and treatment. The Komen H ouston Race for the C ure is a certifi ed U SATF 5K course with running and walking events that include a 5K timed competitive run;a 5K non-competitive run; a 5K walk and a family walk / Kidsone-K –about ahalf-milesponsored byNational O ilwell Varco.Participants who are not able to attend the main Race can choose to register for Sleep in for the C ure to show their support without having to wake up early on Race day. A Survivor C elebration,sponsored by Baker HughesIncorporated, will be held after the Race for all participants and their families.In addition,breast cancersurvivors,top fundraisersand Race sponsorscan enjoy an invitation only post-Racebreakfastat the Pink Ribbon C afe sponsored by C afe Express. O ther Race events include the Kids for the C ure C orral, a postrace for children participating in the Race, an area with bounce houses, face painting and other fun family entertainment and a team area,sponsored by Randalls Food M arkets,that gives teams a place to congregate and take team pictures on Race day.

ABOUT RACE FOR THE CURE WHAT: 22nd Annual Komen Houston Race for the Cure®, presented by Marathon Oil WHO: More than 35,000 Race participants, including 2,400 breast cancer survivors WHERE: Downtown Houston WHEN: Oct. 6, 2012 7:45 a.m. - Race Opening Ceremonies 8 a.m. - Family Walk and Kids one-K 9:15 a.m. - Runners Award Ceremony 10 a.m. - Survivor Celebration, sponsored by Baker Hughes Corporation

A fun kick-off to Race day will be the 11th annual “Pink in the C ity”Pasta Party where everyone throughout the H ouston area is invited to carb-up and get ready for the big day. Race participants will gather and indulge in a carb-loading pasta dinner and bid on unique silentauction packageson Thursday, O ct. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Royal Sonesta H otel. Entry fees are $35 for adults, $20 for children (17 and under),

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Martial arts expert beats cancer not once, but twice by Barbara Dickens For The Leader

$30 for survivors and $40 for competitiverunners.Registration for Sleep in for the C ure is$50 and includes a Race T-shirt,a snooze bib and an extra“Sleep In” treat. About the Houston Affiliate The affi liate was established in 1990 to provide breast cancer education, screening and treatment projects for the medically under-served and uninsured in Southeast Texas.In the affi liate’s

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More than 33,000 runners and walkers from tots to seniors, including more than 2,400 breast cancer survivors, participated in various segments of the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure® through downtown Houston last year. Organizers are expecting more than 35,000 participants Saturday.

22-year history, it has granted more than $9 million for research nationally and over $28 million forcommunitygrantsto qualifi ed 501(c)(3) organizationsin seven H ouston-area counties.It boasts more than 1,500 volunteers.

My name isBarbara D ickens.I am a 24-year Breast C ancer Survivor.I’m here to tell you cancer was one of best gifts I have ever gotten. Being diagnosed in 1988 was the changing point in my life. I was completely devastated. It was the last thing I thought I would hear. There was no family history of cancer. W hy me? I didn’t drink or smoke.Why me? I went through all the stagesfrom hating G od to “I’m going to die and I’m way too young to die.” This lasted for about a week. I realized I had three powerful cancer fi ghters already at my disposal and I began to realize I had all along what it would take to beat this disease – the things “cancer C AN N O T take away.” 1. I had G od. G od carried me every step of the way, especially when I couldn’t walk. 2. I had my family. They were always there to love me, to support me when I felt weak,and to wipe away the tears when they came. 3. I had martial arts and my students who gave me strength and energy. I won the battle. I got a clean bill of health. It was over, and I could go on with life.I passed the big fi ve-year mark that says you won’t get it again. Wrong. C ancer has a mind of itsown;I wasdiagnosed again in 1994,in the same breast.I know that’s supposed to be rare, but “Lucky M e.”After six rounds of chemo and sixweeksof radiation, being tired all the time,horrible mouth sores,losing my hair and the biggest pain of all – gaining 50 pounds! – I was back at life. I won again! (D id you know obe-

Dickens has shown her strength as a 7th Dan Black Belt and as a twotime cancer survivor of 24 years. (Submitted photos) sity two-fold increasesthe death rate? Yet I found out that 96 percent of chemo patients gained from 5 to 50 lbs! W hy is it that all the people I knew who went through chemo lost weight?) I won the battle again! W hat does all this mean? 1. It means to me cancer was a gift –the best gift I ever got. 2. I am a far better person now. 3.I want to spend my life educating people about cancer and its prevention. 4. I want to fundraise for research. I want an end to this awful disease 5. I want to be there for the person that just heard the words “you have cancer.” 6. I want for no one to have to through what I did. 7. I want to help people through Reach to Recovery and Road to Recovery. I have had a slogan in martial arts that I have always lived by and it became my mantra for cancer also:seven timesto battle, eight times up. Dickens is a 7th Dan Black Belt Universal Way and owns the White Horse Academy of Martial Arts in the Heights, www.whama. com.

Page 2B • The Leader • October 4, 2012 • @heightsleader

Survivors count on friends, family and The Rose

In Memory of Melva Lusk

by Karen Campbell For The Leader Janie Botello and husband Israel Guitron are ‘loving each other through’ cancer and other setbacks but are maintaining their humor and hope. Janie is one of the more than 30,000 patients who come to The Rose annually for breast cancer screening and diagnostic services.

“When you’re weak, I’ll be strong / When you let go, I’ll hold on / When you need to cry, I swear that I’ll be there to dry your eyes / When you feel lost and scared to death, like you can’t take one more breath / Just take my hand, together we can do this / I’m gonna love you through it” Janie Botello lovesmusic.Nearing 60 years of age, she laughingly admits that she’s into rap,hip hop,and country.The grandmother to fi ve mournsH ouston’slack of a Tejano station and taps into San Antonio’s station by satellite radio.So it’sno wonder that M artina McBride’s“I’m G onna LoveYou Through It” captured her heart when she heard it recently asG ood M orning America said a temporary goodbye to breast cancer survivor and host Robin Robertswho wasfacing another battle with the disease. Janieís a survivor as well. D iagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in February at The Rose G alleria, Janie is now undergoing chemotherapy. She’s lost some strength and her hair, but not her fi ghting spirit. “When I fi rst found out I had cancer,I told my child and my husband,‘This is a trial – a trial for me from G od – and I’m going to pull through this with fl ying colors. By this time next year I’m going to be doing all the things Iíve ever done before,”Janie shared in a recent interview. A native of Refugio, Janie moved with her family in the late 1960sto northwest H ouston when she was a teen. She spent her last two years of high school at Reagan. N ow living in the C ambridge neighborhood, she spent much of her working life in the import/export business.H er son has provided her with fi ve grandchildren who keep her busy and laughing. Janie’s story is a familiar one to the staff of The Rose.In a tough economy,she waslaid off

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2020 N. Loop West, #220 Houston, TX 77018 and had no insurance.Then she found a lump in her breast.When she mentioned to a friend that she needed a mammogram but had no money for the screening, the friend told her about The Rose. For 26 years,The Rose hasbeen the provider of screeningsand diagnostic servicesfor both insured and uninsured women.But the care doesn’t stop with the news of another year of good health or the unfortunate diagnosis of breast cancer.O nce a woman like Janie hears the news,she isnavigated through the medical maze –including discovering if she qualifi es for several options of assistance – to the treatment plan that works best for her. Janiewasconnected to M D Anderson where she now receives the chemotherapy that has taken her hair and made her weak but not too weak to be both protective and assertive. W hen her husband of 2 1/2 years, Israel G uitron, was recently diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy,she quickly told him,they would make it through but he had get better. “I got on Facebook and asked for prayer

because he’s stressing out.H e’s my caregiver and worried,but he’ll be better in a couple of months.I’m going to take a little longer,”she said. The care Janie hasreceived from The Rose, her navigator Sally Reyes,the doctors at M D Anderson and “even the guy who draws blood”have netted her praise and her gratitude.Whether it iscallsfrom friendschecking in on her,Sally confi rming that she hastransportation to her next appointment,or her son offering to shave her hair when it fi rst started coming out,Janie is convinced that there is a support system that – like the song says – is loving her through it. When asked what she’slooking forward to after the treatment is complete, Janie has a ready reply,“The fi rst thing I’m going to get is a great haircut,”she proclaims with a giggle. “I always wanted short hair but was always afraid to cut it. N ow when it comes back, I’m going to spike it up and have some fun.” For more information on The Rose and its services, visit www.

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Breast Cancer Facts The American Cancer Society provides this snapshot of breast cancer the world over in 2012.

Risk Factors • Breast cancer is a random and deadly disease. • Being female and advancing in age significantly increases risk factors. • With respect to age, race, religion and socioeconomic status, breast cancer knows no boundaries. • Breast cancer typically strikes women during their most productive years, both professionally and personally.

Breast Cancer in the United States For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer. • In 2011, there were more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the US. • In 2011, 22,660 women 65 and older died of breast cancer. • In 2012 there will be 226,870 women diagnosed with new cases of invasive breast cancer. • 63,300 women with new cases of in situ breast cancer (includes ductal carci-

noma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS). • 39,510 women die of breast cancer. • 2,190 men diagnosed with breast cancer. • 410 men who die of breast cancer. • In Texas alone 114 of every 100,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. • About 5-10 percent of breast cancers can be linked to gene mutations (abnormal changes) inherited from one’s mother or father. Mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are the most common. • About 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (just under 12 percent ) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

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Take control of your health with our advanced breast care. At Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital, our Breast Care Center proudly offers a comprehensive approach. From prevention to detection to treatment, our dedicated staff provides the highest level of care. And we use the latest in breast care innovation, including digital mammography and advanced radiology treatments. Remember, proper breast care begins with you, so take an active role and schedule a screening with us today. The Breast Care Center is recognized by the American College of Radiology as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence. To schedule a mammogram, call 713.867.3336.

Page 3B • The Leader • October 4, 2012 •

Q&A With all the advances in diagnosis, treatment and emotional support, the biggest hurdles to overcome in battling breast cancer are frequently still fear and ignorance Dr. Daniel Roubein is the lead interpreting physician at The Rose Galleria, and he answered some basic questions for Leader readers. I am a 42-year-old woman, in good health, and I have no breast problems. Why do I need to get a mammogram? Breast cancer often causes no symptoms until the disease is more advanced. Many medical studies, conducted over many years and involving tens of thousands of patients, have clearly proven that a woman’s best chance at early detection of breast cancer is with a screening mammogram. The idea is to give your radiologist the opportunity to find a small cancer when no one suspects it is there. Finding breast cancer at such an early stage greatly increases the likelihood of cure. One reliable study showed that almost 65,000 additional lives are saved if women are screened annually starting at 40 years of age rather than at 50 years of age. My doctor said I have dense breasts. What does that mean? The density of an individual woman’s breast tissue is classified according to how her breast tissue shows up on a mammogram. The more “white” the tissue appears on the mammogram, the more “dense” the tissue is considered. The reason this is important is that the more dense the tissue, the more likely it is to hide a small breast cancer. Dense breast tissue is not a disease. It is a description. One way to compensate for the presence of dense breast tissue on a mammogram is to add ultrasound to the screening process. Ultrasound may demonstrate a breast cancer which is completely invisible on a good quality mammogram performed on a woman with very dense breast tissue. One breast is larger than the other. Do I need to call my doctor? Some difference in the size of one breast as compared to the other is normal. However, if it has always seemed to you that your breasts are the same size and now you perceive a difference, you should certainly call your doctor to be evaluated. There are causes of breast enlargement besides breast cancer, such as infection. Enlargement of one breast and changes in the skin of the breast are important findings and warrant a call to your doctor to see about having a mammogram and possibly a breast ultrasound.

Living Proof: Self-exams save lives Supporting Brenda Piñòn, in number 99, through her breast cancer journey are her second family: St. Joseph Medical Center co-workers Rosalyn Jackson, manager of Medical Imaging; Celeste Harris, director of Corporate Healthcare Connection and Linda Tijerina, Corporate Healthcare Liaison. (Submitted photo)

by Fritz Guthrie For The Leader O nce a month and on every major holiday,Brenda Piñòn has honored herself by performing a breast self-exam. For her birthday in January 2011, the results of that routine self exam were not what they had been on all other occasions. “While I wasin the shower,I felt something that wasnot normal.I remember thinking,‘That wasn’t therebefore’,”said Brenda.“In August, I had been to my doctor for a well woman exam that included a breast exam and everything was good.But that night,when I asked my husband what he thought about the strange new shape in my breast,he wasquick to suggest that I get it checked out.” Terrifi ed,Brenda scheduled an appointmentforamammogram atSt.Joseph MedicalC enterwhere she has worked since 1993. After a discussion with her physician, they opted for a diagnostic mammogram followed by an ultrasound. In quick succession, she had a biopsy done and had decided upon a surgeon to remove her triple negative breast cancer – the aggressive cancer that had invaded her body. “My initial thoughtswere that I wanted to run away,I didn’t want to leave my husband,I wanted to see my daughter get married,and I did not want to die.I had worked long and hard to get my bachelor’s degree and was to graduate in April. N ow,I might not make it.” She resolved to make a plan to deal with her feelings, so she put on her running shoesand just ran, allowing some time for her mind to clear. “For the fi rst month, ‘breast cancer’ came out of my mouth in a whisper and for the fi rst six months it didn’t come out at all withouttears.But,friends,prayers, G od and my familyathomeand at St.Joseph offered support and the

guidance I needed,” she said. At fi rst, she talked of having both breasts removed, and until the week of surgery believed that was the best plan of action. “I knew I needed to make this decision on my own. It was my body, but I also knew I needed G od’s help,” she said. “I wanted to remove both breasts so that I wouldn’thaveto dealwith itagain, but so many others were telling me to re-think that and pray for guidance.” Knowing that her surgeon was very passionate about breast cancer, as she was wheeled into surgery, Brenda asked him to “care formelikeyou would careforyour wife.” When she awakened and lookeddown,herbreastremained, with a scar and a slight dimple,but was still full and in place. Five monthsof chemotherapy with herfriendsand co-workersat St.Joseph and onemonth of radiation treatmentbroughtBrendato where she istoday –smiling,back at work,and waiting for her hair to return. “Iwouldn’twishthisonanyone,” Brendasaid.“C ancerishorrible.It takes part of you away, but in return,I have gained a greater faith and it’s been a very eye-opening experience.” Brenda believesthat awareness is the key to fi nding a cure and challenges everyone to support those causes that focus on a cure. “It’s not about t-shirts and walks

–it’sabout putting your time and energy into fi nding a cure,” she said. With Breast C ancerAwareness month upon us,Brendacontinues to perform her breast self exams and is scheduling her mammogram. As a young 44-year-old, diagnosed a year-and-a-half ago, Brendaknowshow fortunatesheis to be thisfar into her recovery,and because of this,her annual exams willnotstop with amammogram. She’ll also schedule her doctors’ appointments,blood work,bone density test, PET scan and other necessary servicesto assure she’s doing all she can to combat this disease. When asked if there was anything good about the experience, Brenda smiled and said,“Being at St.Joseph made it all so much better.Theloving familyatmosphere here where I spend 80 percent of my waking hours provided the comfort of home.If I couldn’t be at home,then I wanted to be here with my second family at St. Joseph. They took great care of me and arestillsupporting metoday.” Brenda isthe program coordinatorfortheCorporateHealthcare C onnection at St.Joseph Medical C enter. This program provides concierge healthcare services to thedowntown businesscommunity and to the Port of H ouston. For more information on St. Joseph MedicalC entervisitwww.

Rose ‘Me2’ campaign removes isolation from testing by Karen Campbell For The Leader


G inger Smith waswell aware that 40 marks the age when it’srecommended that a woman receive an annual mammogram. She knew, but fear of the unknown made her put it off –until her friend Kathy suggested they make adayof it.Now thecommunityorganizer,who helpstake care of more than 85,000 people annually through the M ission C entersof H ouston, is taking care of “me, too.” That’sthe concept behind a new awareness campaign launched at The Rose in O ctober that asks women to make a commitment to breast health care.M e2 means encouraging them to (a) think “me, too” and schedule an annual screening and (b) enlist two insured women to join them for a M e2 day of mammograms and fun. Facebook and Pinterest will be outletsfor sharing how they are taking care of themselves and others, too. “I really like the idea that two friends and I can cover a mammogram of an uninsured woman simply by taking care of ourselves,” said Smith when introduced to the concept of Me2.“I work with women every day who wait until everyone else – family, friends – have what they need before they ever consider their own concerns.I’m pleased to supportanother nonprofi t that has found a way to make their work sustainable,” said Smith. Sustainability wasthe impetusfor a threeyear business plan that challenges The Rose with the vision of almost tripling the number of proceduresoffered through itstwo facilities and two mobile units by 2015.O nce accom-

One encouragement for clients includes the monthly Pink Days at The Rose Galleria sponsored by Pink Ribbons Project when artists like Lori Betz, left, lead women to ‘create while they wait’ for their appointment. (Submitted photo) plished,the ratio of three insured women for every one uninsured woman will enable The Rose to use moniesreceived from donations and grants to expand services and the outreach. “I am so excited about our plans and this new awarenesscampaign,”said D orothy G ibbons,the C EO and C o-Founder of The Rose. “Every woman deservesThe Rose -- the quality of care we provide; the dignity we offer; and the compassionate,caring community we are.M e2 will allow The Rose to grow with confi dence,ensuring we will be here for many more women in the future.” N ow in its 26th year of operation and the leading nonprofi t breast health care program in Southeast Texas,The Rose hasgrown from a donated mammography imaging system in less than 900 sq. ft. to two state-of-the-art spa-like facilities, two mobile units serving

200+ sites in 24 counties, 90 staff members, and a client base that spans most of Texas. With a current annual budget of $8.6 million, The Rose relies on foundations, individuals and corporations for half its operational needswith the other half provided by insured women who have their mammograms,ultrasounds and bone density tests at The Rose. Thisunique businessmodel hascontributed to the organization’s sustainability. “W hen we emerged on the breast cancer scene 26 years ago focusing on women and mammograms,supportgroupsandeducation, our approach wasnovel.Many questioned offering low-cost mammography screening to women who could afford itand no-costmammograms to those women who could not,” said G ibbons,who co-founded the organization with surgeon D r.D ixie Melillo.“While we have seen much progress,we still see women who areunawareof theimportanceof preventive care,who wait or avoid a mammogram. That’swhy it isso important to continue to tell them it’s ok to think ‘me, too.’” The “M e2” awareness campaign seeks to encourage women to partner with friends/ family membersto make annual screeningsa priority,to remove the fear factor by making the scheduled appointment day fun, and to encourage insured women to enlist two other insured women to make their appointments at The Rose. M e2 is an ongoing campaign of The Rose including direct mail and social mediaappealswhilehighlightingtheimportance of a woman taking care of “M e, too.” Formoreinformation,visitwww.TheRose. org.

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Page 4B • The Leader • October 4, 2012 • @heightsleader

Events CHICK-FIL-A GOES PINK FOR KOMEN Chick-fil-A will host its first “Pink Out” for breast cancer event on October 5 at its Northwest Crossing location, 13240 Northwest Freeway. The restaurant will donate 10 percent of sales of customers wearing pink to the Houston affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and hopes to raise $1,000 with the promotion. “We are really excited about this event, especially since all of the employees, including myself, are going to be wearing pink shirts to further show our support for the cause,” said Angelique Hernandez, general manager. For information, call 713-462-7698 or email

ST. JOSEPH OFFERS LOWER-COST TESTS St. Joseph Medical Center in downtown Houston is scheduling $100 screening mammograms during October. The rate will be honored through the end of the year for all appointments scheduled during the month of October. Offer includes screening mammogram, CAD and radiologist interpretation. Call 713-757-7416 to schedule.

AVON AWARENESS DAY The Avon Walk Breast Cancer Awareness Day will be held from 9-11 a.m. Oct. 13 in Spotts Park, 401 S. Heights Blvd. The session will include fundraising strategies, a 30-minute Zumba class, and attendees will receive a training kit for the Avon Walk next April 20-21 and a discounted registration fee of $45 – reduced $20 – for the walk. Breakfast will be provided by Panera Bread. For information or to RSVP, email or call 713-968-9250.

DINE ON SULLIVAN’S ‘PINK’ MENU For the fourth year, Sullivan’s Steakhouse, 4608 Westheimer Road, is offering a three-course $39.95 Pink Menu throughout October and will donate $5 from each meal to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Guests have a choice of four starters including wild mushroom bisque or an iceberg wedge salad; main course of filet mignon, Cajun-dusted salmon fillet with truffle-red pepper chili butter, roasted chicken breast with wild mushroom-Madeira ragout, or crab-stuffed shrimp. For more information, call 713961-0333.

LEARN ABOUT BREAST RECONSTRUCTION St. Joseph Medical Center will celebrate BRA Day – Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. From 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Oct. 17 information will be available on the importance of and the techniques for breast reconstruction. Staff and education will be provided in the crosswalk on the second floor of the Susan K. Strake Building at 1819 LaBranch. For information call 713-757-1000.

BREAST HEALTH SUMMIT TO SPAN 2 DAYS The eighth annual Breast Health Summit, sponsored by the Breast Health Collaborative of Texas, will take place 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Oct. 25-26 at the United Way, 50 Waugh Drive. The sessions are dedicated to improving access to breast health care in Texas and are open to everyone from health care professionals and community workers to patients and survivors. For information, visit


by Ellen Cohen For The Leader “I’m sorry M rs.C ohen,but it’s malignant.”Emerging from a fog of anesthesia,I looked around the hospital room to see if the doctor could be speaking to another M rs.C ohen.Hewasn’t.ItwasNov. 7, 1969, and I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in my late 20s at the time; a wife and a mother to two young children.Iwasdevastated,butthis was40 yearsago in my husband’s hometown of Montreal,and Iwas not given a choice of what surgery or treatment I wanted.Who ever heard of a partial mastectomy,or chemo treatments,or radiation? Afterenduring myradicalmastectomy,the doctor asked if I had anyquestions.O nlyafew hundred, I thought.H ow long did he think I would live? H ow should I go about telling my children,M arcie and Eric? I loved sports—would I be able to do anything physical again?And how could Iexpect my husband to react to thisdramatic change in my body? “You bet I have questions,”I replied. “Well,maybeyou’d liketo speak to my wife,” the doctor said. She wasn’t a physician and had never had cancer, he acknowledged, “but she’s a woman.” Looking back from a modern perspective, this seems like a laughablesuggestion.Mymother was a woman. M y best friends were women. N o, I didn’t need a woman—I needed a young mother breast cancer survivor to talk to. Butatthetime,asinconceivable as it seems today, I didn’t know a single other woman who had ever had, or admitted to having had,breast cancer.In those days, one didn’t say the word cancer in public, and one certainly didn’t say the word“breast.”D iscussing breast cancer openly was simply

Ellen Cohen not done (not unlike the stigma surrounding domestic violence today. In fact, O ctober is both Breast C ancerAwarenessMonth and D omestic Violence Awareness M onth.) I left the hospital frustrated,but resolute.Through trialand error,I found the answersto some of my questions, and as I did so, I becamemoreand moredetermined to change thisnegative mentality surrounding breast cancer. Six months after my surgery, I read about Teresa Lasser,founder of theAmerican C ancer Society’s Reach to Recovery in N ew York C ity.Thisprogram trained women who had had breast cancer to visit with women who were undergoing surgery,in order to help them through the process. I met with Teresa,who wasinspirational,and she trained me to bring the program back to the province of Q uebec. Throughout the next six years, despite opposition and many bumps in the road, the Reach to Recovery of C anada program expanded in M ontreal and was ultimately in almost all the hospitals there, in both English and French. Theprogram grew,butso many women died.So manyof thewomen who helped me start Reach to Recovery of C anada.I was so sad for them, and so afraid for me. Therewasnoroutinemammography,no self-examination,and

no interest or money being spent on breast cancer.I remember taking a walk one day and coming home to fi nd a good friend waiting for me—a friend who fortunately did not have breast cancer butwho nonethelesshad spentan inordinate amount of time helping me set up Reach to Recovery. W hen I saw her all I could say was,“W ho died?” And when she told me it wasone of my early volunteersIscreamed to theheavens, “N o more! Please, no more.” When myfamilyand Imoved to Houston in 1977,Reach to Recovery was going strong in Q uebec and more women were passing the fi ve-year survival milestone. Women were going sooner for mammograms,demandingbiopsiesof suspiciouslumps,and asking for second opinions. Throughout the intervening years,the growth in public awarenessabout breast cancer hasbeen astounding.O ctober isNational Breast C ancerAwarenessMonth, and the pink ribbon isitswidelyrecognized symbol. Awareness hascreated increasesin early-detection, as well as interest in improving treatments. Since my diagnosisin 1969,the percentageof women likelyto survive breast cancer for at least ten years has jumped from less than 40 percent to 77 percent.Whereas I once worried that I would never seemychildren graduateelementary school,I have been privileged to see my grandchildren graduate high school, and one from college! I know that, as a 42-year survivor, I am one of the fortunate ones. This O ctober, I urge you to take the opportunity to learn more aboutbreastcanceratwww. or at

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Breast Cancer Knows No Age Limit. She died of Breast Cancer at 93.

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Ellen R. Cohen is a member of the Houston City Council.

Garden Oaks native relies on prayer through fight by Karen Campbell For The Leader Sharon H aidusek hasspent her career taking care of others.Now the 59-year-old native of G arden O aks has had to be on the receiving end of that arrangement. Sharon issurviving breast cancer. With two degreesin hotel/restaurant management and a resume highlighting experience at notable hotels and well-regarded establishmentsthroughout the hospitality industry, Sharon stayed very busy. As the single mother to two sons–Sami Hemzawi,a20-year-oldattending theUniversityof Houston D owntown and Sasha H emzawi,an 18year-old senior at Waltrip H igh School – she hasn’t lacked for extracurricular activities.So,like many women, she didn’t always take care of herself. She hadn’t had a mammogram in more than 15 years when she fi nally slowed down long enough

to visit The Rose.She received her diagnosis at the end of July this year. “I’m extremely grateful to all the people at The Rose. I had my ultrasound and biopsy done at the G alleria location where I was treated with kid gloves. Everybody wasloving and understanding,” she explained. Within two weeks of her diagnosis, she was at M D Anderson and within anothertwo weeksshe had had hersurgery.Forsomeone accustomed to meeting the varying requestsof ademanding public, Sharon gave her experience some of her highest praise,deeming it “very fast and very professional.” Though both her parents had experienced cancer – her mother’s throat and her father’s colon – she said the idea of breast cancer had never entered her mind. As soon as she was told, she followed her mother’sexample and began to pray. “M y mother said it took two

H ail M arysto get through the radiation treatment back in 1964,” recountedSharon,adevoutmember of St. Rose of Lima C atholic C hurch.“When Iwentand had my biopsy done,I said the H ail M ary the entire time and I know those prayers have got me through.” She attendstwo prayer groups each week and hasfound not only spiritual support but fellow survivorsthere.At least six people in her M onday night prayer group are facing cancer of some form. Seeing othersbattle the disease that has touched her family in so many ways,Sharon is once again reaching out and taking care of others. She sings the praises of The Rose,the breast health organization that identifi ed her Stage 1 cancer and helped navigate her toward treatment,to all who will listen. And on O ct. 6, she, her sons, and their friends will be walking with her alma mater St. Agnes Academyduring theSusan G .Komen Race for the C ure®.

Breast Cancer Screening Information Risk Factors

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Screening Recommendations

Being female and growing older are two of the Early detection and treatment offers the best most signifi cant risk factorsfor getting breast can- chance of breast cancer survival.When breast cancer. O ther factors that are linked to breast cancer cer is diagnosed at an early stage and is confi ned to include: the breast, the 5-year survival rate is 98 • Family history of breast cancer percent.Recommendationsforprevent•A previous breast cancer diagnosis ing and treating breast cancer are: • Lack of exercise and poor diet • Set up annual screening mammoThese are just some of the factorsthat grams beginning at age 40. are linked with breast cancer.In fact,80 • If there is a family history of breast Mammogram percent of all breast cancer occurs in cancer or any specifi c risk concerns, women with no known risk factors.Adplease consult with your healthcare proditionally,breast cancer ismore common in C auca- vider to determine when to begin your mammosian women,and morefrequentlyfound atadvanced grams. stages in African American and H ispanic women. • C linical breast exams every three years beginning at age 20 and annually after 40 by a trained healthcare provider.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Curves continues to work to raise awareness in women about the life-saving importance of risk management, early detection and treatment. Throughout the month, Curves women’s fitness centers throughout the nation are waiving the joining fee for new members who show proof of a mammogram within the past year or make a $25 donation to breast cancer research.

Cohen’s survival traces history of awareness

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2012 Awareness


2012 Awareness