SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2011
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Melissa Koehler with daughter Shelby Dixon
think p nk By ANNIE GETSINGER |
Women share their journey of cancer survival Kathy Grant
H&R Staff Writer
During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the world becomes just a little more pink. Store shelves, television shows, T-shirts, front yards and even newspaper pages take on the rosy hue. For some, the color carries an added emotional significance. Five local women, all breast cancer survivors, shared their stories and talked about why they wear pink. Kathy Grant, 48, received her breast cancer diagnosis in March 2004. “I was just a month shy of my 41st birthday,” she said. “It came on very sudden. I found a lump.” Grant had no family history of the disease and had just started a health kick, making some diet and exercise changes. Along with the lump came discomfort she had never felt before. Grant thought she might have pulled a muscle, but saw her physician to be sure. A mammogram confirmed that the pain and lump were not due to a muscle injury. “They knew from the mammogram what it was,” she said. “I didn’t even have to wait. They told me that day.” Within a matter of weeks, Grant had a mastectomy, which was followed with chemotherapy and
radiation. She opted not to have her breast reconstructed. “There are times when I regret not doing it,” she said. The physical scars and emotional reminders of the experience will remain with Grant forever, but she also makes sure to help raise awareness in others and sustain the cause. “I wear (pink) to show my support for other women that have gone through this,” she said. “At times, I like it when someone asks me if I’ve known somebody because then I can tell my story.” Grant has received a few special gifts, including pins from friends and family and a necklace from her daughter-in-law. “Believe it or not, I look really good in pink, but I find myself not having a lot of pink,” she said. This month, she’s sporting her awareness with a bright pink streak in her brown hair, which is now the longest it has been since high school. Awareness must start somewhere, Grant said, adding that she makes it a point to tell other women to get checked. “In my case, it started with me.” The support she experienced from family and friends during her breast cancer journey was a gift she will never forget, she said, citing the companionship of her aunt and sister-in-law as special examples. Samantha Turner, 33, is the mother of two children, 7 and 13. She is also a breast cancer survivor. Turner was diagnosed at age 30 after finding a tender lump during a self-examination. She said she always remembered to do the exams each month. “It felt like a bruise, a really bad bruise,” she said. Turner sought medical attention, but she said her provider was reluctant to evaluate the lump further to see if it might be cancerous. “I found it six months before they would do anything about it,” she said. “They kept telling me I was too young. Don’t worry about it. Cancer doesn’t hurt. You know, all that stuff.” Finally, she said, her family doctor started the diagnostic process. The following week, her biopsy came back positive. “I had a week to decide if I wanted the mastectomy or the lumpectomy,” she said. “I chose the JOURNEY/PAGE 2
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
2 THINK PINK
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2011
Survivor Stories Here is my personal story of my ordeal with breast cancer. I had cancer one year ago. I got my strength from the Lord. I was prayer-covered by my family and friends throughout the whole ordeal, which gave me peace about whatever the future would hold. My husband went to every doctor’s visit and treatment with me. I feel very fortunate to have found a new friend shortly after I was diagnosed with breast cancer who was going through the same procedures I was each week. We had different doctors and were treated at different hospitals, but we were always within two days of each other for our weekly appointments. We were always hoping to hear good news from each other after our doctor visits, secretly I know, worrying the other person’s report might not be as good as the one we had received. We both did well physically and emotionally, but it was such a support to be able to talk to someone who was experiencing the same thing at the same time. My advice to anyone going through breast cancer would be to find someone else going through it as well so you can share your concerns and encourage each other. My grandchildren think they prayed me well. I know they did. — Dona Bailey nn n I thought if I never wrote the words, I have breast cancer; if I never said them aloud, and if I didn’t tell anyone, it would just go away. I had lost my Grandma Kaye, one of my best friends lost her mother Nancy, and we had just lost a friend of our family who we affectionately called “Aunt Carol” all due to breast cancer. My husband (Sammy) and I felt that anyone I told would immediately think the worst. I would be compared to these incredible women that we had lost and the drama would be overwhelming. I feared no one would understand that thanks to the wonders of mammography and my commitment to regular screening, my cancer had been found very early and I would likely have a positive outcome. Throughout the month of October 2010, we stayed quiet as I underwent four biopsies and everywhere I turned there was a pink something or other for breast cancer awareness. I remember I cried for the women we had lost, and now for myself, as I painted a pink ribbon on Sammy’s bald head for the “pink” football game at Millikin University. As it became inevitable that I would have surgery, we knew we had to start telling folks. I developed a strategy to preface every conversation with, “I ask that you stay positive about what I have to tell you and that you please not compare me to anyone else.” The hardest thing was telling my sons, yet I prefaced the conversation in the same manner and they turned out to be a tremendous source of strength for me this past year. I also told my family and friends that I might need some help. Those of you who know my independent, stoic nature realize this was very difficult for me. I recall my cousin Heather, who is more like a sister to me, saying, “You need to let us help you and you’re going to have to slow down a little”. I thought I could handle the gazillion appointments myself; bravely driving to 33 radiation appointments during the worst Central Illinois winter of 2010-2011. I soon learned with some gentle coaxing from the stupendous staff of Mills Breast Cancer Institute, that it’s OK to ask someone to attend appointments with you. I now do this regularly, and when I’m tired; I rest. On Oct. 6, 2011, I was told that my mammogram was normal, my blood work was normal, and all indications were that the cancer was gone. Sammy, as well as numerous family members and friends, loved me through
it; just like the Martina McBride song depicts. I continue to participate in a clinical trial of preventative medications, and this October, I’m enjoying everything around me that is “pink”. From the lessons I’ve learned thus far in this journey, I offer these words of encouragement to others: n Tell people when you’re ready the way you feel is best n Don’t compare yourself to anyone n Ask for and accept help n Rest and heal your body and mind. Put some limits on the demands other’s place on you. Breast cancer is breast cancer. It doesn’t matter what type, or what stage, or how it’s treated. You are none the less affected, and you may need to tenderly remind others of this. — Kathy Trusner, Decatur nn n I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2007. After I finished my sixth chemo treatment, I wanted to have a celebration, so I had a small gathering. The theme was “celebrating my faith, family and friends.” Many evenings as I lay on the MORE STORIES: couch, these www.heraldwere the review.com things I focused on — not my disease. God had given me family and friends to help me through this period of my life. Some days I was even happy about putting on my wig and not worrying about my “hair.” — Ann Glasser, Decatur nn n I would like to tell my story as a cancer survivor. I am currently in my 18th year as a breast cancer survivor. In February 1994, as it had been five years since I had my last mammogram, I went to St. Mary’s Hospital for my test. My test showed a nodule in my right breast. The doctor told me I should see a surgeon, as it should be removed. Upon recommendation of a good friend, I contacted Dr. Gale Zacheis (a very good and caring doctor). He then made arrangements for a wire biopsy and surgery to remove the nodule. As we feared, it was malignant. The nodule was one centimeter, so I was one of the lucky ones in catching it early. It was hard to realize this was happening to me at the age of 65 (I am now 82), but I feel God was leading me for this test, and with the help of my husband, my children and grandchildren, I survived through 35 radiation treatments. I feel I have the St. Mary’s Cancer Care Center, as well as Dr. Zacheis and his staff, to thank for my recovery. I urge all young people to take mammograms or tests annually as these tests help catch cancer in the early stages. As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, please donate your money and time to the American Cancer Society. I truly believe that someday there will be a cure for cancer. Thank you Herald & Review for this publication. — Joan Herron, Findlay nn n My experience with breast cancer started in March 2011. The cancer was in my left breast and in one out of 10 lymph nodes removed, which meant it was stage II. I decided to have both breasts removed. The chemo wasn’t fun, but with the surgery and chemo, there was a happy ending for me. I am now cancer-free. And yes, my hair has fallen out but is growing back now. I really want to thank God, Dr. Ben at CCSCI, a special nurse at DMH, Brenda, and of course, my three kids and eight grandkids. They make life worth living. For myself, my faith in God, keep living life to the fullest and laugh a lot even though it’s not always easy. — Vickie Richardson, Decatur
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Herald & Review/Mark Roberts
Samantha Turner, from left, Kathy Grant, Heidi Rea and Melissa Koehler
JOURNEY Continued from A1
mastectomy because I thought it would be easier.” Choosing the mastectomy option meant that if her lymph nodes came back clear, she wouldn’t need radiation, and she didn’t. Turner then had reconstruction on both sides, three months apart, to ensure that her breasts were even. She said she wears pink to raise awareness among women and medical professionals because it’s important for people to know that there are young women affected by breast cancer. Turner has two bracelets, a necklace and several pink shirts that she likes to wear. She, too, is wearing a pink streak in her hair this month. She also participates in local events that raise awareness for cancer causes such as the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. “I hated the word ‘survivor’ in the beginning,” she said. “I am just now getting used to it. There’s more that goes on after surgery than people want to be aware of. They think once you go through surgery you should be done. I’m two years out, and I still emotionally am dealing with it.” She said she often waits until she becomes close with a new friend to discuss the fact that she is a cancer survivor. “I didn’t even tell very many people when I found out,” she said. The experience has changed her life in ways she could not have anticipated. Turner quit her full-time job of 13 years to go back to school to become a counselor. Her search to find an area counselor who specializes in cancer came up empty, inspiring her to join the field to help others. Turner’s good friend died from breast cancer two years before she was diagnosed. Although she supported her through her battle, she said she now understands the experience from a different perspective. “Even though you try to sympathize with them, you don’t get it,” she said.
Melissa Koehler, 40, was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2005. “It was a self-exam,” she said. “My grandma was losing her battle with breast cancer at that time, so I made sure that I did selfexams.” Her grandmother died three weeks after she was diagnosed. Initially, Koehler’s surgeon took out the suspicious lump, thinking it wasn’t cancer. A call at work later revealed that he had been wrong, and Koehler was soon on a journey that included more surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. She now proudly wears a pink streak in her hair for the month of October, but it took time for her to grow into the survivor identity she embraces now. “When I first was diagnosed and I was going through treatments, I didn’t want anything to do with any of it,” she said. The support of her family and friends, including her husband, daughter and two stepchildren provided an important way for Koehler to cope throughout and beyond her treatments. She said she wears pink to help raise awareness of the disease and the importance of regular screenings. One of her favorite symbols is the logo of Fight Like a Girl — a pink ribbon with a pair of pink boxing gloves. Koehler plans to go to the tattoo parlor with her husband, stepdaughter and some friends. She and her husband will get a similar design with a ribbon and gloves. She already has one tattoo that commemorates her journey. Three butterflies on her lower back symbolize her three surgeries, and the pink roses on either side stand for Koehler and her grandma. Joyce Mazzotti, 54, found a lump in her breast in December 1997. She had just turned 40 and was performing a selfexamination, which she admits she didn’t always do regularly. “That little voice inside me
‘I hated the word ‘survivor’ in the beginning. I am just now getting used to it. There’s more that goes on after surgery than people want to be aware of. They think once you go through surgery you should be done. I’m two years out, and I still emotionally am dealing with it.’ Samantha Turner just said, ‘Just do it,’” she said. “ … (The lump) felt like nothing I had ever felt before.” Mazzotti went through surgery and chemotherapy in 1998 and took tamoxifen for five years. In the fall of 2006, she had her other breast removed prophylactically. Mazzotti’s 94-year-old mother is also a breast cancer survivor. “I think the pink to me is silent support to other people out there that are going through it,” said Mazzotti. “And for me, when I wear pink, it’s my little silent victory to say, ‘I made it.’ ” Her husband, Larry, who is battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia, wears pink, too, and they support one another. Mazzotti has “pink everything.” She wears a wide range of rosy-colored clothing and accessories, but she also makes rhinestone-studded items for new and old friends who are breast cancer survivors. “It’s a very difficult thing for a woman to go through, very difficult, and anything that I can do to support somebody, I will do,” she said. She has crafted teddy bears, stocking caps, bags and other special items. “You name it,” she said. “I try to find unique things.” Mazzotti feels that she has been called to help people. She has mentored women through the Helping Each Other Recover support group, which provides breast
cancer survivors with oneon-one guidance and support. Heidi Rea, 45, received her breast cancer diagnosis this May after a routine mammogram discovered a lump too small to feel. “The day after Mother’s Day is when I found out,” she said. “The doctor did not want to call me on Mother’s Day, so he waited until the day after.” In June, Rea had a bilateral mastectomy and began her journey toward reconstruction, which was recently completed. Along with friends and her daughter, Hannah, Rea also is wearing a pink streak in her dark hair this month. “If it makes one person remember to go get a checkup or get a mammogram or make their appointment … If it reminds them to go get checked, it’s important,” she said, fighting back tears Rea said she sees the color pink differently these days. “I notice it now, which I probably didn’t before,” she said. Hannah recently made a shirt for her mom with a pink ghost on it reminding women to get their “booo-bies” checked. The young girl has provided a sense of comic relief and a profound comfort to her mom. Their experiences together after Rea’s surgery deepened and strengthened their bond. “For maybe two weeks, it was kind of like I was the child and she was the mom,” Rea said. “She took care of me.” Hannah, then 9, helped drain her mom’s tubes, assisted her to the bathroom and brought her anything she needed. “It was hard to let her do that,” Rea said. Connecting with Koehler and hearing about her experiences was another important step. “The thing that eased my mind most when I first found out was Melissa telling me, ‘I know how you feel,’” Rea said, again fighting back tears. “And she did.” Rea said she now feels equipped and ready to help other survivors, should they come to her with questions or simply in need of support. Faith also provided a sense of comfort to her. Rea has worn a bracelet with a Bible verse since the day she found out she had cancer. “When I felt like I couldn’t get up, I’d just look at it,” she said. firstname.lastname@example.org|421-6968
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2011
Smart to start breast exam habits early in life By JAMIE LOBER For the Herald & Review
Breast health should not be taken lightly. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, one out of eight American women will develop breast cancer sometime in their life and it is the leading cause of cancer deaths in Illinois women. At this time, only about 9 percent of breast cancers in Illinois are detected at the earliest and most curable stage. The good news is that through a monthly self breast exam, clinical breast exam and healthy lifestyle choices, you can have the best outcomes. While the numbers may sound intimidating, most of the time breast changes are not cancer. Listen up. “Make sure you know your body and your breasts and that you are familiar so if something is different or if there is a change you will recognize it,” said Shayne Squires, regional communications manager at the American Cancer Society in Springfield. You should get in the habit of looking and feeling monthly the week after your period when your breasts are not tender or swollen. “Sometimes what happens is that it is not done consistently so women are not recognizing if there is a change,” Squires said. The self exam is easier than you may think. “You should check each breast all over and include your armpit by using your finger pads and moving them in a small, circular motion using different amounts of pressure like light, medium and deep to feel the entire breast,” Squires said. You should also look at your breasts in the mirror. You can start doing the self breast exam in your early 20s and make it part of your lifestyle. “If there is any dimpling, discharge or something different, do not put it off and report the changes to your health care provider,” Squires said. Swelling, skin irritation, breast pain or thickening of the skin are other red flags. Make the right choices. “Eat healthy and be physical-
ly active because many of the risk factors for chronic diseases all walk hand in hand,” said Brandi Binkley, director of health promotion at the Macon County Health Department. You will want to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program but remember that every action counts. “Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer,” said Binkley. Not using hormone therapy after menopause can decrease your risk. Maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and limiting alcohol intake also can be helpful. The American Cancer Society recommends the clinical breast exam about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and older. This involves the doctor looking at your breasts for changes in size and shape followed by feeling for lumps and checking under both arms as well. The mammogram is a great tool as well. “Mammograms use less radiation than a dentist’s X-ray and your doctor may not feel a lump until it is the size of a pea but the mammogram can find it several years before the change can be felt,” Squires said. An evaluation includes reviewing personal health history and family history, discussing any problems and then examining the breast tissue. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, all individual and group health insurance and HMO policies must provide coverage for complete and thorough clinical examination at least once every two to three years for women 20 to 39 and annually for women 40 and older. They cover the baseline mammogram for women between 35 and 39 and annually for those 40 and older. While you should focus on modifiable risk factors and get the appropriate screenings, people can still get breast cancer even if they do not have a family history. “The top two factors for breast cancer are being a woman and growing older,” Squires said.
To My Beautiful, Loving Wife of 25 Years
Love your hubby, Kevin
In Loving Memory of
I Am With You Still
I give you this one thought to keep I am with you still - do not weep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn’s rain. When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not think of me as gone – I am with you still - in each new dawn.
Love and Miss You, Your Family
THINK PINK 3
Male breast cancer uncommon but possible Disease tends to develop in men later in their life By ANNIE GETSINGER H&R Staff Writer
DECATUR — Although breast cancer primarily affects women, it is possible for men to get the disease, too. The list of notable men who have had breast cancer includes former KISS drummer Peter Criss, “The Price Is Right” announcer Rod Roddy and Richard Roundtree, original star of the “Shaft” movies. Despite the rarity with which the disease affects men, Dr. James L. Wade, medical oncologist and founder of Cancer Care Specialists of Central Illinois, said he continues to see a small number of male breast cancer patients. “For every man with breast cancer, there are 100 women with breast cancer,” Wade said, adding that there are fewer than 2,000 new cases of male breast cancer in the United States each year. There are some significant differences between female and male breast cancers. On average, compared to women, men tend to get the disease five to 10 years later in life, Wade said. “Family history is important because men in a family of women with breast cancer do have a slightly higher chance,” he said. Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which can increase women’s risk of breast and other cancers, also are significant to male breast and prostate cancers, he said, adding that any man found to have breast cancer is checked for these mutations. Other factors also contribute to a man’s likelihood of developing the disease.
“There’s no absolute, but one of the risk factors is that it seems to occur in men that have more breast tissue,” Wade said. The condition of enlarged male breasts, called gynecomastia, can occur for a variety of reasons such as age, being overweight, alcohol use or certain medications, he explained. Increased risk for breast cancer also is associated with several rare genetic conditions, Wade said, citing Klinefelter and Cowden syndromes as examples. The disease is often discovered when a man notices a lump, Wade said. “Usually it’s just by chance.” The course of action for diagnosing a man with breast cancer is similar to what a woman would go through, including a mammogram and a biopsy to identify the disease. Male breast cancer is often discovered when the lumps are smaller than they might be in women, as men generally have less breast tissue, said Wade. But he also has seen men in his office in whom the tumors have grown through the skin, creating visible ulcers. Wade said it has been found that black men with breast cancer are more likely to have larger tumors and lymph node involvement when the disease is discovered. “That’s a similar story to what we see with African-American women and their breast cancer,” he said. The exact causes for these differences are not known, but health access disparities or distinctions in the biology of the disease or the patients could contribute, Wade said. Vitamin D is thought to be “an important part of the breast cancer story,” he added, explaining that deficiency, which is more common among African-American people, might be associated with a higher risk for the disease or for more aggressive forms when it develops. Doctors work to evaluate male breast cancer similarly to how they look at the female form of the disease. Tests for a trait that marks aggressiveness and for sensitivity to hormones are important parts of outlining a man’s treatment plan, Wade said. About two-thirds of female breast cancers are hormone-sensitive, compared with about 90 percent of male breast cancers, he said, adding that almost all men with breast cancer are
prescribed tamoxifen, a drug that works by interfering with the activity of the female hormone estrogen, according to the National Cancer Institute. In men, doctors also recommend surgery to remove all breast tissue and check lymph nodes. With women, one treatment focus is sparing breast tissue when possible, but for men this is generally not a consideration, Wade added. Based on the size of the cancer and lymph node involvement, chemotherapy and radiation also are considered for men, Wade said. Val Jordan, director of oncology services at St. Mary’s Cancer Care Center, said she has personally treated two male breast cancer patients in 17 years. Some of the emotional issues faced by men with the disease are different, she said. “I think that’s a whole different set of issues and stigmas,” Jordan said. “It goes into the whole manhood thing … I think breast cancer in a man affects their ‘manhood’ a little differently than it does a woman because it is so rare and because it is so unheard of. You don’t hear a lot about male breast cancer.” It’s difficult to conduct research on male breast cancer, Wade said. “There just aren’t enough men out there across the country to have a clinical trial set up for just them to really study the disease.” Instead, doctors and scientists learn about the disease by pulling together information that has been gleaned from treating male breast cancer patients and through research conducted on female breast cancer and other cancers. Wade recommended that all men and their loved ones develop awareness about the disease and its risk factors. “Be aware of your own body, and if you feel a lump taking a shower, don’t brush it off,” he said. “Have your doctor check it out.” email@example.com|421-6968
Dedicated to those who’ve lost the fight and those who won’t quit the fight.
of Taylorville supports Breast Cancer Awareness 1531 N. Springfield Rd. | Taylorville, Illinois 62568 (across from the Super Wal-Mart ) CHEVY • BUICK • CADILLAC 217-824-2255 WWW.LANDMARKAUTO.COM
Gone for 25 years! We still miss you every day.
Congrats 3 Year Survivor!
Love, Dawn, John & Family
Christy Jo Braden
In Memory of
“Big Sis” Jan Podgorski-Sanders 2-4-62 ~ 5-25-11
In Honor of
Patty Hanly Love, Your Husband and Family
In Loving Memory Judy Krutsinger
Love you, Vickie & Mark
Mommy, I miss you more than words can ever say. I love you 3
It’s been 5 years since you left We’re missing you like “crazie”
Scott, Rhonda, Lora and Families
Love, Mom & Dad
Tracy ~ Mom,
2-4-62 ~ 5-25-11 In Loving Memory of
Janeann M. Sanders February 4, 1962 - May 25, 2011
Sally Lafferty Joyce Mazzotti
Cancer Survivor for 11 years.
Over a year and a half has passed, and we find you more radiant and a great source of inspiration now more than ever. We wanted you to know how much richer our lives are for having you in them. You were the best mother, wife and friend we could ever ask for. We love you and miss you so much!
14 Year Survivor Love, Carley & Carson
We Love You, We Miss You
Love you bunches! The King Girls Wendy, Jordan, Shelby & Celina
Love you, Judy
Love, Mark, Matthew, Josh, Calli, Hannah, Charlie & Dallas
4 THINK PINK
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2011
Local agencies ready to offer help for cancer patients The organization works to help uninsured and underinsured women and men access treatment. “I wanted to give back to my community,” Brilley said, so she contacted Jones about starting Illinois’ own chapter of the organization. This month, Illinois WINGS celebrates its 10th anniversary. Brilley serves as executive director at its Springfield headquarters. The organization works with county health departments, hospitals, providers and the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. In the past 10 years, the organization has helped more than 200 women and men in Central and Southwestern Illi-
Programs provide resources for those facing tough journey By ANNIE GETSINGER H&R Staff Writer
DECATUR — Only those that have been faced with the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis can fully understand the physical, emotional, family and financial difficulties that often go along with it. But those who work for local cancer centers and programs said that despite the nature of one’s struggles, there is help out there. The first important step is seeking it out. Leigh Ann Hale, patient services coordinator at Cancer Care Specialists of Central Illinois, considers herself a sort of “GPS” for people going through their own cancer journeys. “I can help them navigate which turns to take in regard to some of the tougher things they’re going to face,” she said. Those who seek her out are met with a friendly face and a wisdom that has come from filling out hundreds of forms and making even more phone calls to help area residents with cancer. Hale said she regularly works with resources at a variety of agencies and foundations to help people with and without insurance access needed treatments, medications and services. She listed both Decatur hospitals, the Macon County Health Department, American Cancer Society, Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, Community Health Improvement Center and Illinois WINGS as just a few of the local resources available. But the list of services out there can be quite daunting for someone unfamiliar with how to navigate them, Hale said. Finding the right person to ask for help is important. Patient advocates and social workers at health facilities and social service agencies often have valuable experience in helping people access proper preventive care and treatment. Primary care providers also are valuable resources, Hale said, adding that it’s important to see one’s physician regularly. She has helped people with everything from coordinating rides to and from treatment to contacting pharmaceutical companies on the behalf of patients in need of potentially lifesaving drugs. Hale said she sees many people who are fighting cancer without health insurance. Some
Herald & Review photos/Lisa Morrison
Crystal Sakautsky and Kelly Wheeler are two of the people who will make your visit to Cancer Care Specialists of Central Illinois a pleasant one.
MORE INFO n The American Cancer Society: www.illinoiscancerhelp. org/ n Illinois WINGS: http:// illinoiswings.com/ n The Illinois Breast and Cervical Program: http://cancer screening.illinois.gov/ n DMH Women’s Health & Breast Center: www.dmh cares.org/services/womens health/ n The Cancer Care Center at St. Mary’s Hospital: www.stmarysdecatur.com/ Services/CancerCare/ Default.aspx n Cancer Care Specialists of Central Illinois: www.cancer carespecialists.org/ patients qualify for assistance through Medicaid or other programs, and others do not. “There is help out there for people,” she said. “Not everybody is going to be able to get it, but it’s certainly worth a shot.” Many of those who do have health insurance face financial hardship as they go through their cancer journeys, Hale said. Having to pay for even 20 percent of treatments that cost $20,000 each time, expensive tests and other medical costs can quickly take its toll. “It’s a whirlwind when this starts,” she said. It’s OK for patients to ask for help and to share that they need financial assistance, Hale said. “They are not alone,” she said. “There are resources out there to help them. They just need to make a call.” Providing treatment to those in need is important, and so is ensuring that all in
Dr. Mario Velasco looks over X-rays while working at the Cancer Care Specialists of Central Illinois.
the community have access to regular screenings, said Jenny Brandenburg, director of women and children’s services at Decatur Memorial Hospital. The DMH Women’s Health & Breast Center’s Mammography Initiative provides nocost screening mammograms to area women based on family income guidelines. If more testing is needed, patients are referred to additional resources at the hospital and the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. Brandenburg estimated that the local initiative helps fund about 500 mammograms per year. The center also helps women undergoing treatments access a local prosthesis and bra bank, wig bank and support groups, which provide opportunities to network with other survivors. Women need to take an active role in their health, Brandenburg said, emphasizing the importance of performing monthly self-exams and scheduling annual clinical exams and mammograms. The hospital works to get the word out about its resources for underserved women through local physician offices, organizations, churches and events. “I think the Decatur/ Macon County community has gone a long way to reach out to the underserved,” said Dr. James L. Wade, medical oncologist and founder of Cancer Care Specialists of Central Illinois. The Cancer Care Center of Decatur recently held free prostate cancer screenings and has worked to offer free colon cancer screenings in the past, he said. For those with money troubles and family strife, it can be hard for people to think about screening for a disease they probably don’t have but might get, Wade said. “For maybe one out of 100 of those people, screening could save their life. They just don’t realize it.” He advised people to call local hospitals, clinics and social service agencies to get plugged in to a network that can help. “It’s scary for people who don’t have the resources and they don’t know what they’re going to do,” said Val Jordan, director of oncology services at St. Mary’s Hospital Cancer
Survivor Stories People are rather shocked when I state that breast cancer has been a real blessing to me. Of course, I didn’t always feel that way, especially at the time of my diagnosis. Complicating the issue was the fact that two of my sisters were also diagnosed — all three of us within a two month period. A very supportive husband, children, pastor, friends and church family were extremely helpful in aiding my recovery, physically and emotionally. I was also involved in the establishment of a breast cancer support group at our local health department. This group of ladies offers each other much needed support by sharing our unique experience. The most important piece of my recovery, though, was my relationship with God. Throughout this journey, I learned to rely on Him and put things in His hands rather than try to take control of everything myself. God’s strength was the key to a complete recovery. Helping others has also been a positive thing and helps me shift focus away from my problems. My experiences through multiple surgeries and treatments have made me realize how fragile life is
and how important each and every day is in the scheme of things. At the end of my days, I want to look back and know that I tried to make a difference in others’ lives. — Gina Fox, Newton nn n When a biopsy showed that I had breast cancer, I don’t know who was more surprised … me, the radiologist, or the surgeon. Oddly enough, I was never scared. I just made up my mind right then that I’d do whatever I had to do to beat it. There were actually many bright spots during my treatment and recovery. The staff at Cancer Care Specialists is amazing! They are the most caring people. And talking to other cancer patients in the waiting room was always something I looked forward to. I learned a lot that way. My aunt, my best friend and the great girls I work with were unbelievably supportive. They were really there for me. If I met other women who have to deal with breast cancer, I’d tell them to read as much as they can about cancer and cancer treatment. The more you know about what’s going on in your body, the less overwhelming and
insurmountable it seems. And reading the stories of other survivors is a tremendous source of encouragement and inspiration, too. But for me, the ultimate sources of strength were faith and humor. Never forget how to laugh! — Jill Andrews, Decatur
Care Center. Both local hospitals have programs in place to help those without insurance or the ability to pay. “My message would be don’t ever, ever delay any treatment because you believe you can’t afford it,” Jordan said. Barbara Brilley, a Decatur native, was facing that very decision 18 years ago. She didn’t have health insurance and was settling into a new job when she received news she had breast cancer. “You don’t know what you’re going to do,” she said. “You don’t know if people are going to treat you or how they’re going to treat you.” Brilley’s family and the local community helped pay for her treatments — an effort that likely saved her life. Years later, she saw Terri Jones, the founder of a breast cancer treatment nonprofit organization called WINGS, on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show.
nois, Brilley said. “All those patients might not have been helped if we hadn’t been here.” Doctors and hospitals sign contracts with the organization to be reimbursed at Medicaid rates in exchange for helping clients. “I have never had any doctor’s office tell me they don’t want to be a part of this program,” said Brilley. She urged women with concerns about affording breast cancer screening and treatment to contact the local and state resources dedicated to helping them. “The most important thing is that they get help,” she said. firstname.lastname@example.org|421-6968
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DMH competes for best pink glove video Hospital hopes to ease patients’minds during treatments By ANNIE GETSINGER H&R Staff Writer
DECATUR — Decatur Memorial Hospital has contributed its fair share to the potpourri of pink items that appear every October in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Flamingos adorning area yards and a lively online video featuring hospital employees and supporters in pink exam gloves were just two of this year’s contributions. According to Medline Industries Inc., a medical supply company, the original Pink Glove Dance video was filmed at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Ore., and debuted in November 2009. The video, which featured 200 hospital workers, has since gained more than 13 million views on YouTube. A sequel video produced last October featured 4,000 health workers and breast cancer survivors. DMH got in on the fun last year, creating its own video in a similar style. This year, the hospital is one of many businesses and groups participating in a contest sponsored by Medline. First, second and third place will earn $10,000, $5,000 and $2,000 for breast cancer charities of their choice. “So many people liked the video, Medline decided they were going to do a little competition with it,” Jenny Brandenburg, director of women and children’s services at DMH, said of the pink glove phenomenon. DMH’s submission to the contest is one of more than 130 from hospitals and groups all over the country. The hospital is hoping to win money to support its breast cancer services at the DMH Cancer Care Institute. Approximately 250 DMH employees and supporters participated in this year’s video, said Brandenburg. The video focuses on some of the experiences those diagnosed with breast cancer would have in the hospital and introduces viewers to many of the people they might meet along the way. Joyce Mazzotti, a 14-year breast cancer survivor, agreed to take on the patient role in the video. She first appears in one of the hospital’s mammography facilities, and the camera follows her interactions with doctors, nurses and staff members in departments along the way — all while Katy Perry’s “Firework” plays. “For breast cancer patients and survivors, a lot of people who would be watching the video, it’s people they know and they’ve seen,” said Brandenburg. She said she hopes the video helps generate awareness and provides a little inspiration and a “sense of hope” for those who are experiencing their own journeys with breast cancer. Brandenburg recalled one patient bumping into her and telling her that on days she wasn’t feeling well during her treatments, she would go to the website and watch the video to bring her a little bit of joy.
Herald & Review photos/Jim Bowling
Jill Williams passes out a bag containing a bagel and breast cancer awareness materials during the Early Detection Connection event at the Cancer Care Specialists of Decatur.
THINK PINK 5
Survivor Stories Five years since I heard the words “its cancer” yet I have come out on the other side. Hearing those words puts you in a dark, long tunnel, and you wonder if you will ever see the light at the end. MORE STORIES: You worry www.heraldevery time review.com you go for chemo, “Will I have a reaction? Will my blood be good enough? I can have it, is it working?” Then you have the radiation, and you hope that they made the mold accurate so the spot is being treated. You wonder about how long it will be until you get your strength back. It is a journey like none you have ever taken, but it is certainly life changing. The things I used to worry about, I don’t now. I stop and savor the small things and remember that when I am weary, it is not the bone weary body aching tiredness brought on by chemo.
How do you get through it? One day at time with support. You need friends calling, sending cards and prayers, and you need an “I can” attitude. My words of advice would be: “Keep the faith baby. Hang strong and remember cancer can not rob you of your personality, unless you let it. Do not become a ‘woe-is-me’ person; be firm and strong and determined to see it through.” I looked forward to my fiveyear checkup thinking, “oh I will get rid of the anticancer drug.” However, at that checkup my doctors encouraged me to continue on with the pill because my cancer had been so aggressive and because of my family history. So now I take that little pill and think, “Do your stuff pill. I want to see more sunrises, more grandkids and fill my days with great memories.” My new motto is: “Do it now.” — Marilyn J. Donahoo, Shelbyville
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Tricia Henning sells a charity pink flamingo with the proceeds going toward breast cancer awareness. “I’m hoping it relieves their mind a little bit to know that we’re with them all the way through the process,” said Brandenburg. The video entries can be seen at http://pinkglove dance.com, and the winners will be announced via the site Oct. 28. In addition to funding the contest, Medline is donating a portion of each sale of its pink gloves to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. To date, the company has given more than $800,000 to the foundation to help fund mammograms for the underserved. DMH’s video was screened at the hospital’s Evening in Pink event held Oct. 7 at The Decatur Club. In addition to the dancing and pink decor and drinks, DMH also offered several health screenings and some educational materials about breast cancer and women’s health in general. Karen Oesch, mammography coordinator at the DMH Breast Center, sent attendees home with cards to use to schedule their mammograms. “I think people sometimes forget that they’re due to have screening tests, and they try to avoid them unless their doctors hound them,”
she said, adding that it helps to remind people in a casual atmosphere. Margie Monson, a 10-year employee of the catering department at DMH said she enjoyed attending the special event, as she usually has to work most of them. Monson said breast cancer hasn’t touched her life, but working in the health care setting makes her much more likely to take care of herself and get checked. Josephine Bisch attended the event wearing a pink outfit and accessories in memory of her two sisters who died from breast cancer. She said it’s important to raise awareness of the disease. “I tell them all the time at the church I go to,” she said. “I tell them to please get checked.” DMH also continued its Breast Cancer is for the Birds campaign this year, selling plastic yard flamingos throughout the month to support breast cancer services at DMH. Flamingos are available for purchase at the South Shores Imaging Center, Forsyth Imaging Center, DMH Gift Shop and the Cancer Care Center of Decatur. Flamingos purchased in honor and memory of a friend or family member will be listed in an ad in the Herald & Review. email@example.com| 421-6968
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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2011
Men in pink campaign reaching local level Shops, community take action for cancer awareness By ANNIE GETSINGER H&R Staff Writer
DECATUR — In the five years since the St. Mary’s Hospital Real Men Wear Pink campaign began, pink dress shirts, ties and cufflinks have become a ubiquitous sight on Fridays in October and at many other times of the year. The campaign originated in 2006 as a joint effort between St. John’s Hospital, a sister hospital of St. Mary’s, and the American Cancer Society. St. Mary’s and Neuhoff Media Decatur brought it to town, said Brian Byers, vice president of development for Neuhoff Media and host of the morning show on WSOY. “We’ve been involved from the very beginning,” he said. With the help of Lori Kerans, a member of an advisory council for oncology services at St. Mary’s and head coach of the Millikin University women’s basketball team, the event has grown to encompass a series of pink-themed high school football games and other sporting events meant to raise awareness and funds for local breast cancer education programs. “It’s fun to watch the high school kids embrace a cause and get involved with something bigger than themselves,” Byers said. The young men don’t think it’s a big deal to be seen sporting pink polos, socks, T-shirts, jerseys and other items, he said. But Byers said awareness has come a long way. He remembers a time when people were reluctant to say the word “cancer” out loud. Men need to talk to the women in their lives and encourage them to be screened for breast cancer, he said. “The most important
Herald & Review photos/Mark Roberts
A special cuff link, designed for St. Mary’s Hospital Real Men Wear Pink campaign, is displayed at the kickoff reception at The Brass Horn.
Pink bracelets are displayed for the Real Men Wear Pink campaign. thing that we do in this is get the message out.” So far, more than 100 notable community men have been involved with the campaign. This year’s men in pink include local physicians, health workers and businessmen. Ryan Spurlock and George Streckfuss, owners of The Brass Horn, a men’s clothing store downtown, have supported the campaign from the
beginning, offering an assortment of pink clothing and accessories throughout October and donating some of the proceeds back to the campaign. “Every year it has surprised me the involvement that people have put toward it,” Streckfuss said at a kickoff reception at The Brass Horn. He estimated that the shop has donated more than $5,000 to the campaign. This year, the store sold close to $2,000 worth of pink merchandise in its first week, he said. The Brass Horn also created special pink-ribbon cufflinks in the third year of the campaign. This year, all proceeds from the $75 items will be donated to Real Men Wear Pink, Streckfuss said. Val Jordan, director of oncology services at St. Mary’s Cancer Care Center, attended the pink-themed Maroa-Forsyth football game in September. “The cheerleaders were all decked out in pink,” she said. Jordan said her daughter collected more than $250 for the cause at the gate.
Survivor urges women to be proactive BY SHARON BARRICKLOW For the Herald & Review
SHELBYVILLE — Vicky Wagner wears a T-shirt that tells her story. “No they’re not real,” reads the lettering across her chest. “The real ones tried to kill me.” The Shelbyville woman was one of the featured speakers at a recent “Girls Night Out” at the Lake Shelbyville Visitor’s Center. The monthly event sponsored by Shelby Memorial Hospital, addresses women’s health issues. For October, the focus was on breast cancer awareness. Wagner told with laughter how soreness in her breast in October of 2009 led to the discovery of a fast growing tumor that eventually sent her to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for surgery and treatment. She urged the more than 60 women in the audience to be proactive in their own health care and to get to
know their own bodies. “If there is something wrong, tell your doctor right away,” she said. Wagner’s good humor and gallantry during her treatment led her friend and co-worker Steve Koontz to custom build a pink “Fight like a Girl” motorcycle that the hospital and the Shelby County Soil and Water Conservation District are raffling off to raise money for cancer patient services. “I wanted to do something to show her how much we supported her,” Koontz said. “Vicky doesn’t do things small, so a big motorcycle was the right thing to do.” Tickets for the custom bike, valued at $13,500 are available at mysmh.org Women attending the presentation took home a variety of gifts provided by the hospital, other businesses and the American Cancer Society. Shelby Memorial CEO Mar-
ilyn Sears said bringing women’s health information to the public was an important mission for the hospital. “We do this every month except December,” she said. “Next month will be diabetes information and in January we’ll be looking at stress. They’re fun events, and we hope women will take the information to be more aware of their own health.” For Koontz, the custom motorcycle for a friend has turned into a business. His Fighting Chance Customs is currently building a new chopper as a fundraiser for the Chief Crazy Horse National Monument in South Dakota. Wagner left her audience with a positive thought regardless of their health status. “Make the best of every good minute you have,” she said. “It’s a ride, but you can get through it.”
In Her Shoes auction aids cancer programs By ANNIE GETSINGER H&R Staff Writer
DECATUR — If the shoe fits, bid on it. Organizers of In Her Shoes & His Too hoped area residents would take that advice to heart as they approached the special online auction to benefit Come Together — Let’s Walk, a summertime run and walk with its proceeds going to local breast, ovarian and cervical cancer programs. A cocktail hour and reception was scheduled for Oct. 13 at The Decatur Club, but organizers decided to move the event to an online format, with bidding conducted via email. The auction packages could be viewed on the walk’s Facebook page. The auction featured 16 packages centered on a shoe theme — some with decorated shoes and others with assorted items and creations. “So many of our people here locally have walked in the shoes of somebody who has been diagnosed with cancer,” said walk coordinator and local businesswoman Cindy Deadrick-Wolfer. Local businesses and organizations worked to create the packages, which ranged in theme from golf to beauty, Halloween and fitness, said Deadrick-Wolfer. Millikin University, Jerger Pediatric Dentistry, Fringe Salon, The Little Theatre-On the Square and others contributed to the cause. The event, which had been
“It says to me that the word is out,” she said. “We’re getting the word out. We’re getting the awareness out. I think we’re tapping into a whole generation of people, of kids, really, that we’re raising the awareness of.” The hospital’s cancer center also is honoring its breast cancer patients this month. “Internally at the cancer center, we just have giveaways for our breast cancer patients and raise awareness,” Jordan said, adding that employees are distributing educational materials, small gifts and things to make them feel special. Money raised through the Real Men Wear Pink Campaign goes to fund the hospital’s breast cancer education and awareness programs in the community. Byers urged area men and women to show their support for the cause. “Have these conversations with your loved ones,” he said. “Wear pink on Friday. It’s just an easy, symbolic way to show support and to cause and create conversation with the people you run into.” firstname.lastname@example.org|421-6968
Survivor Stories I was 53 years old and had never missed a mammogram since I turned 40. I was working full time when I found the lump. It turned out to be stage 3b breast cancer with MORE STORIES: 17 positive lymph www.heraldnodes. After review.com two operations, chemo and 33 radiation treatments, I am so thankful to say I am a five year and five months survivor. I was blessed to be
able to work throughout my treatments. My sources of strength were my faith in God, my wonderful husband who went to every appointment and treatment with me, my children and grandchildren wonderful friends and co-workers and two very gifted oncologists. I would tell others to be very pro active about their health, to stay positive and most importantly, ask God for strength and know that he will get you through this journey. — Linda Carter
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Breast cancer survivor Jill Hartsock displays her 2010 entry into the In Her Shoes auction event. Hartsock’s entry reminds her of a book on fancy shoes that a friend gave her along with the tea set she used during her recovery. conducted as a cocktail hour and silent auction in the past, usually generated between $10,000 and $12,000. The idea originated out of the concept of one’s journey with cancer, said Deadrick-Wolfer. Tammy Griffin, co-owner of Earthen Pottery, said her shop donated an auction package this year. “What we’re doing is kind of different,” she said, adding that the item consisted of a pair of pots shaped like feet and stuffed with Life is Good products. “It’s just kind of a feel-good message and something to make people smile and laugh at when they see it.”
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Griffin said she was impressed by the inclusiveness of the Come Together event and wanted to help promote local cancer awareness efforts. “I think it’s important to help raise money for this kind of a program, just for people to be aware that it is going on, and it is going on fullforce,” she said. Griffin said that although she doesn’t have a personal or family connection to women’s cancers, she’s happy to be able to support the cause. “My heart goes out to all who do,” she said.
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