Think pink SECTION C
B r e a s t C a n c e r Awa r e n e s s M o n t h 2 0 1 1
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Searcy races for the cure today
Local women join fight against breast cancer
By Marisa Lytle firstname.lastname@example.org Today, hundreds of people from Searcy are participating in Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Little Rock. The race begins at 8 a.m. at the intersection of Broadway and Second streets in downtown Little Rock. The Searcy Race for the Cure team comprises more than 220
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
Who: Searcy teams participate in today’s race. Where: Downtown Little Rock When: Beginning at 8 a.m.
women, according to Anna Overbay, event specialist for the White County Medical Center and coordinator of the Searcy team. “This is my second time to coordinate
the Searcy team for Race for the Cure,” Overbay said. “I’ve worked at White County Medical Center for a little over a year, so this is one of the first events I coordinated when I started last year.” The Searcy team was originally coordinated by Searcy Athletic Club, but the responsibility has passed on to the medical center. “This year, I got together with a group of ladies who were co-captains of teams under the broader Searcy team last year,” Overbay said. “We Continued on Page 5C
Breast cancer treatment available locally
Mammogram technician Melanie Potter explains the use of a digital mammogram machine at RAPA Searcy Breast Center. The machine records images of breast tissue and transfers them to a computer screen. Marisa Lytleemail@example.com
Doctors talk diagnosis, treatment
By Marisa Lytle firstname.lastname@example.org hile difficult and perhaps impossible to find a woman who looks forward to having a mammogram, having a regular breast check-up can and has saved many women’s lives. According to Brenda Walker, a mammogram specialist at RAPA/ Searcy Breast Center, she and the Who: center feel Representatives very strongly from RAPA, White that women County Oncology need to have and CARTI yearly mamWhat: Explain mograms what women from age 40 need to know onward. about breast “About cancer diagnosis a year or so and treatment. ago, some research was circulating that said women need only have one mammogram per year,” she said, “We are in total disagreement with that. All you have to do is talk to women who were diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 to know how important mammograms are. We want to catch it before it metastasizes, or spreads.” Walker said that the recommended age for a woman to have a baseline mammogram, meaning her first one ever, is 35 if she has no family history of cancer. The age lessens to 28 if a woman has a first-generation history of cancer, for example, if her mother has had breast cancer. Then, once a woman reaches 40, she should be having mammograms yearly — no exceptions. “Women will look for any excuse not to have a mammogram,” Walker said. “They’re afraid; it’s unknown to them; they hear stories and think it will be painful. But a lot of times, women come in for their first time and afterwards ask ‘That was it?’ For
Who: RE/MAX agent What: Recently began chemotherapy for breast cancer Additional info: Said her goals are to defeat the cancer and encourage other women as they try to do the same
Woman begins fight with cancer Local real estate agent aims to beat cancer, help others
By Marisa Lytle email@example.com When all looks grim, the most courageous of us fight our way through in search of a brighter day. Searcy resident Deb Staley, recently diagnosed with breast cancer, has already Staley turned her darkness into light and strives to help others do the same. “I know that every day I have a choice to get up and live or lie down and die,” Staley said. “But I have two goals. The first is to beat this cancer. The second is to help other women do the same.” Staley said her journey began when earlier this year she found a lump in her breast. “I called my doctor,” she said. “I had an MRI on July 28, and that’s when my world suddenly changed. That began the start of a number of tests and lots of scans.” The MRI showed suspicious activity, she said, which prompted doctors to give her a mammogram and an ultrasound in August. “With every test, I got more undesirable news,” she said. “After the diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound, the surgeon was certain it was cancer. Three tumors were discovered. It was suspicious that the cancer was also in my lymph nodes. I was then informed Continued on Page 2C
What: Tells story of hardship, defeat of disease and life after cancer Additional info: Black attributes faith to bringing her through her struggles.
Breast cancer awareness
Breast cancer survivor tells her story
Center sees 35 to 40 women per day and has been acquiring new patients since the opening of the new Cancer Center of Excellence. The Searcy Breast Center is housed within the Cancer Center along with White County Oncology and CARTI. Each group is a separate entity, however. “The reason for housing them all in the same building is to facilitate flow of medical care,” said Brooke Pryor, director of marketing at White County Medical Center. “Women can go from testing in the Breast Center to visiting with their oncologist in another part of the building and then to having surgery all in the same day, if need be. They don’t have to spend time and energy traveling between different places.” So, what is the next step after a mammogram detects something
By Marisa Lytle firstname.lastname@example.org Women are often told “better safe than sorry” when it comes to being checked for cancer. For one local woman, nothing could have been more true. On March Black 29, 1995, Robin Black rolled over in bed feeling a little soreness in her right breast. She felt a lump but decided to ignore it. “I thought, ‘Oh, that’s nothing. It will go away,’” she said. She waited one month before going to the doctor, who then sent her to get a mammogram. “It seemed as though the lump was getting bigger,” she said. “It was May 5 when I went to the doctor for the first time. It was [my husband]
Continued on Page 3C
Continued on Page 6C
Kelli Hale, a mammogram technician at RAPA Searcy Breast Center, demonstrates the use of a computer in looking at images produced by and transferred from a mammogram machine. The breast center is housed in the new Cancer Center of Excellence, located at 415 Rodgers Drive. Marisa Lytle/ email@example.com
some women, it is uncomfortable if they have sensitive breasts. I tell them to take care of themselves really well and to cut back on their caffeine intake a few weeks before coming in for a mammogram to reduce the hurting.” Many women have dense breast tissue, Walker said, and the denser, the harder it is for them to conduct self breast exams. Nonetheless, she stressed that it is crucial for women to know their bodies well. “It’s so important you realize what’s going on with your body,” she said. “If you notice something and come in for a mammogram, it may end up being a cyst or just some tissue. It’s all right. Don’t be embarrassed. We’d rather someone come in and it be nothing than it be something and we miss it if she doesn’t come in.” Walker explained what happens if a mammogram does catch something suspicious.
“If it’s a baseline or if we have no comparison films for a patient, she may have to return for another mammogram,” she said. “In a nice perfect world, breasts should be symmetrical, but it’s usually not that way. That can make it difficult to tell right away if there’s something amiss, so we have to do another mammogram. “Then, if there is some tissue that looks different from the rest of the tissue, we would call the woman back in and look at the specific area with a doctor present. If needed, we would then do an ultrasound. “A lot of times, women get tired of coming back in, but we have to call it as we see it. If there’s something that warrants more testing, we would then recommend a biopsy here in the office, which would entail an injection with a fine needle.” According to Walker, the Breast
Page 2C • Saturday, October 22, 2011
The Daily Citizen
Staley: Fighting cancer
Continued from Page 1C
Jon Newby with his late wife, Lori and children Griffin and Ally enjoy a fall afternoon in 2009. Contributed photo
Harding Academy coach, family look for ‘bright days’
Husband discusses losing his wife to breast cancer
By Molly M. Fleming firstname.lastname@example.org The 2010 football season was one that Harding Academy Coach Jon Newby will never forget. It’s not because his team played better than ever, or one of his players made a memorable play. That was the Searcian Jon season that he took Newby lost his some time off from wife of 15 years the game he loves to breast cancer. in order to support He credits the his biggest fan, his city and his family for their supwife Lori. Lori was diag- port during the nosed with breast tough time. cancer a few years earlier, but as the cancer began to take its hold on her life in 2010, Jon had to be by her side, even if that meant leaving his team and school behind. “Everyone here just told me to go,” Newby said. “It was unbelievable. [High school principal] Coach Darren Matthews said he would cover my classes. They didn’t even ask me to write lesson plans. They just told me to leave and be with her.” That time away from school would be the last few days that Newby would get to spend with his wife of 15 years. She died on Nov. 11, 2010 at the age of 40. He was back on the field coaching a week later — not because he wanted to, but because he had to. “If you knew [Lori], she would have been kicking me in the tail if I didn’t go back and do my job,” he said. “People weren’t surprised by it. I had missed some ball games to be with her and she said she felt bad about making me miss the games. Then, we talked about football and how silly it is in the big scheme of things.” Newby wasn’t the only one affected by the loss of Lori. The couple has two
Harding Academy assistant football coach Jon Newby talks to Tyler Curtis during a 2008 Wildcats game. Contributed photo children — a son, Griffin in third grade ish their homework after school or Gigi and a daughter, Ally in eighth grade. Ally comes and picks them up and takes helped keep her mom looking her best by them to Sonic,” he said, “She spoils helping her pick out wigs. them, of course.” Newby said his wife went through This time of the year, Newby can chemotherapy rather quickly once she either be found in the classroom or on was diagnosed, so the children saw her the football field, and soon he said he’ll getting sick and losing her hair. However, be helping on the basketball court. His she still kept up with the busy family as children are also busy with athletics. much as she could. He said the family keeps busy as they “Until the last three months, she was search for the ‘bright days.’ so energetic,” he said. “She put on a good “There are a lot of bright days, but front for the kids. She would go until she there are a lot of sad ones too,” he said. couldn’t go anymore. Then, she’d take a “The people that I have talked to who nap and get right back at it again.” have been through something like this Once Newby returned to coaching, he say there are more bright days to come. soon learned how much he and his family So we just stay busy and keep working meant to the community. for the brighter says.” “When Harding Academy played Newby commended the community Riverview High School later that week, for their support since the loss of his wife. Riverview had a ‘pink out’ and they He said there are still casseroles showing charged money to walk laps around the up at his front door from unknown donors track and gave that money to us,” he to this day. He said he hopes anyone said, “The community support has been going through a similar situation lives in unbelievable.” a community like Searcy. Not only has the community support “It’s a difficult situation, but I would been great, Newby said he gets a lot of hope and pray that [anyone going help from Lori’s sister, Kim, who teaches through this] would be surrounded by at Harding Academy and Lori’s parents. people like I was,” he said. “It would “The kids go to Kim’s room to fin- be difficult to do that alone.”
that breast cancer might be the least of my worries.” Staley said the doctors were worried the cancer may have spread to her lungs and other organs, as well. “That’s where the PET scan came in to play,” she said. “That’s also where my first bit of good news came. The scan confirmed that the cancer was contained within my right breast and lymph nodes on the right side. I got this news at the end of August. “I’ve told so many people that I never thought I would say ‘I’m glad I have breast cancer.’ The surgeon really thought it could be more. But now I know that breast cancer is all we’re dealing with, and we can start formulating a game plan.” The next step was for the doctors to take a closer look at the specific features of the cancer. Staley had a biopsy the Wednesday before Labor Day. “I got to spend the weekend worrying about my biopsy results,” she said wryly. “On Tuesday after Labor Day, I got a phone call from my doctor, who said, ‘I have bad news.’ My heart sank. The doctor continued, ‘We didn’t get enough tissue sample from the first biopsy. You’ll have to come back as soon as possible to have another one.’ “Talk about a ‘Whew!’ kind of moment.” The results of this second biopsy confirmed her cancer had both invasive and noninvasive (DCIS) elements. “Next, we needed to find out what was going on in my lymph nodes,” she said. “There isn’t a surgeon in Little Rock, where I was going for tests, who can do a needle biopsy of lymph nodes. Only a surgical biopsy of my lymph nodes was available. I wasn’t excited about that. “Phil and Judy Hoggard are personal friends with Dr. Ed Clifford from Baylor in Dallas. Judy came to me and said, ‘If I were in your shoes, I would consult with Dr. Clifford. Breast cancer is his specialty. If you want a second opinion about the biopsy, that’s where you should go.’ “Now, Dana Abraham of Abraham Breast Clinic in Little Rock was my doctor. She’s wonderful, and I have nothing but praises to sing for her, but I just learned that there are advancements in other places not available to us here. “So, I contacted Dr. Clifford, and he told me he felt it was not the right thing to have the surgical biopsy. He has done thousands of needle biopsies, and he can get all the information from a needle biopsy that a surgeon could get from a surgical one.” On Oct. 5, Staley drove to Dallas to her lymph nodes biopsied. “The trip was very successful,” she said. “I can never thank Judy Hoggard or Dr. Clifford enough. I didn’t get good news from the biopsy, but we go the last piece of the puzzle we needed so I could move ahead with treatment and fighting cancer.” According to Staley, her cancer situation is complicated by another medical situation. In April, he shad coronary artery stents because she had a 99 percent blockage of her left main artery.
“I can’t just be a normal case,” she said with a laugh. “I had to see a cardiologist to make sure my heart was ready to go for chemotherapy. I got a good report, and I’m ready to go.” Staley has chosen to do chemotherapy in Searcy at the Cancer Center of Excellence. “What a blessing to have that facility here,” she said. “I have had, professionally speaking, the most incredible support from Dr. Cheryl Payne. When I have to have radiation, she will be my radiation oncologist. She’s been available to hold my hand and guide me through the process. Dr. McCord at the Cancer Center will be my chemo oncologist. She’s a brilliant woman; I adore her. I went to her with four pages of typed questions, and I didn’t leave her office until they were all answered. She never seemed in a hurry, and she was very thorough.” This week, Staley had a port placed directly in her vein in preparation for her chemotherapy, which began Wednesday. Last week, Staley said “Wednesday is the day the fight begins. That’s the date the battle really begins to rage. Cancer has picked on the wrong person. I’m meaner than it is. But I still have a long way to go.” Staley wears a pink ribbon lapel pin with the RE/MAX logo on it. “I’ve worked at RE/MAX for 15 years,” she said. “While the company still partners with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, in recent years it has also partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.” Today, Staley is attending Race for the Cure with her daughter, Jenna, who flew in from Dallas to see her mom and accompany her wig shopping. Staley also has a son, Jordan, and a fiancé, Robert Cargile. Also, ever since her mother died, her father has been living with her family. “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I plan to be at Race for the Cure,” Staley said last week. “They may be pushing me in a wheelchair, but I plan to be there." Staley emphasized the necessity of having a support system when dealing with such a hardship. “I don’t know how women make it through without support from people,” she said. “Anyone going through this needs to have support.” Staley said she wants to help other women, whether she knows them or not. “So many women go to their first visits with doctors and don’t have any idea what’s going on or what all of these terms mean that the doctors are using,” she said. “I want to be there to help them.” In addition, Staley has been doing what she can to encourage early diagnosis of cancer. “I have been asking every woman I know, ‘Have you had your mammies grammed recently?’,” she said. “I know of at least eight women who have gone to get their mammograms after I told them to. “I’m no Susan G. Komen, but I am trying to help every woman I can to fight breast cancer.”
DO IT FOR
Be Proactive • Detect Early
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E SAG STLE S E A M A CA One-in-eight women will be diagnosed with breast ND ealtor OM LI cancer in her lifetime. Each year, nearly 200,000 R Your
women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s why creating an early detection plan is the best way to fight. The five-year survival rate of a stage-one breast cancer diagnosis is 98 percent. I have so many wonderful girls in my life! My daughters, my granddaughter, sister, nieces, co-workers & friends.
So for all my girls, I support the cause and the cure and I hope you do too! o!
904 E Race • Searcy, AR
The Daily Citizen
Saturday, October 22, 2011 • Page 3C
Treatment: Local doctors explain breast cancer diagnosis and treatment process
Continued from Page 1C
said. “We discussed ways to get more people to sign up for the race and also ways to get more sponsors. Last year, we struggled getting sponsors because everyone sponsors everything — they’re spread out too thin.” This year, the Searcy team has four sponsors, the funds from whom will pay for T-shirts. They are Hoggard Team (RE/MAX), HealthCorp Searcy Athletic Club, Think Advertising and First Security Bank. White County Medical Center is functioning as a sponsor by contributing time and effort in the organization of the Searcy team. The Searcy team is the broad team representing Searcy that anyone can join. Other sub-teams, such as the First Security and HealthCorp teams, join under the Searcy team, while other teams from Searcy, such as the Searcy High School team, function on their own and are not associated with the Searcy team this year. “The reason we want as many people as possible to join the Searcy team, whether that be on their own or with a sub-group, is so we can have a big overall team representing Searcy at the race,” Overbay said. “We want our whole community to be in the fight against cancer.” Overbay added that WCMC wants to be involved in RFTC to support the community. “We want to be involved in Race for the Cure and Relay for Life for one big reason,” she said. “We want to support our community. Also, we want to support anything that is contributing to the fight against cancer.” According to Overbay, WCMC aims to have even more sponsorship and also more people sign up to be on the Searcy team next year. Kristi Thurmon helped coordinate the First Security Bank sub-team of the Searcy team. “My job has been to get our employees involved and excited about the race,” she said. “We’re really happy to be involved.” According to Thurmon, 25 women are participating on the First Security team. Dee Conway, coordinator for the Family Practice Associates team, also under the Searcy team, said the group has 28 people partici-
Dr. Ryan Koch, a medical oncologist, describes the function of a CT/PET scanner inside the new Cancer Center of Excellence. The new scanner has facilitated making appointments with patients and has helped doctors feel more confident and accurate about their treatment, said Koch. Before the center had the scanner, they had to rely on a mobile scanner that would come to Searcy only once per week. Marisa Lytleemail@example.com pating this year. least seven years and is doing er and Future Teachers of “My daughter and I started so again, though not as a sub- America club sponsor Bobbie doing Race for the Cure nine team of the Searcy team. Coleman started the tradition years ago,” Conway said. According to team co- of having a Searcy Schools “We think it’s a great cause. sponsor and English teacher team,” she said. “Mrs. I think everyone should par- Jaime Brown, 14 teachers Coleman taught in the Searcy ticipate.” and 51 students are on the district for more than 30 years Conway said Race for the SHS team. and started the team because Cure is particularly impor“This is my fourth year she had a long-standing fight tant to her because she had to participate on the Searcy against breast cancer. Because a breast cancer scare a few Schools team and my sec- I helped her with FTA, I took years ago. ond year to be a captain of over the role of team captain “I had a possible issue the team,” Brown said. “Lori when Mrs. Coleman lost her with breast cancer two or Nielsen and Trisha White fight against breast cancer three years ago, but when I help co-sponsor the team.” two years ago. Lori Nielsen is did the biopsy, with lots of Brown explained why a veteran teacher at SHS and prayers, I was clear,” she Race for the Cure is so best friend to Mrs. Coleman, said. important to Searcy High and Trisha White is an SHS The Searcy High School School. English teacher and mentee team has participated for at “Former English teach- of Mrs. Coleman.”
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Jay Saini, a medical physics resident for CARTI/St. Vincent’s Hospital, works on a Truebeam linear accelerator at the Cancer Center of Excellence in Searcy. The machine is one of only eight to ten in the nation. Marisa Lytle/mlytle@ thedailycitizen.com
“Participating in Race for the Cure is a tradition that is near and dear to my heart. So many students and teachers in our district have personally been affected by cancer or have lost a loved one to cancer. As long as there is a Race for the Cure,
Searcy Schools will participate.” Other teams from Searcy participating in Race for the Cure today include Cloverdale Church of Christ, Downtown Church of Christ, Gym Stars and Quest Energy Services.
reast Cancer affects mothers, daughters and friends from all walks of life. Help in the ongoing fight against breast cancer by scheduling a mammogram for yourself today! Also, encourage others you know to do the same. Early detection does save lives.
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Page 4C • Saturday, October 22, 2011
The Daily Citizen
Think Pink Cancer does not mean the end
Samantha Knight of Bradford reads the label on a Pantene Beautiful Lengths Breakage Defense shampoo at Walmart. Pantene Beautiful Lengths partners with the American Cancer Society to help women grow long, healthy hair and provide funds to turn this hair into wigs for women with cancer.
Marisa Lytle/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Awareness month promotes donations Options available for joining fight against cancer
By Marisa Lytle email@example.com The month of October’s focus on breast cancer awareness has led many people to ask, “What can I do to help?” Though trite, possibly what is also the most accurate answer is to donate to a good cause. Donations can take the form of money given to a breast cancer research foundation, time spent participating in fundraising events and awareness events, such as Race for the Cure, or a giving heart that takes the time to visit with and encourage cancer patients. Donating hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths or selling one’s cut hair to a salon and donating the money to a cancer organization can also benefit breast cancer patients. Purchasing products from companies who donate a portion of the funds to breast cancer research is a popular way to donate, but would-be buyers must be wary of ploys to prey upon customers’ sympathies and turn around and keep most of the profits for themselves. Kathryn Finney, founder of TheBudgetFashionista.com, wrote in an October 2007 article on her site that “’cause’ marketing has become big business and perhaps no other cause has been used in this way more than breast cancer.” She concedes that “the promotion of ‘cause’ products does help increase awareness,” but she is concerned that companies could be in the breast cancer awareness business merely to turn a large profit. Likewise, Erika Lehman of the Better Business Bureau wrote in an article published by www.bbb.org on Sept.
Donate for a cause October Breast Cancer Awareness Month encourages people to donate to causes. Citizens of White County have many opportunities to participate in awareness events and make donations to benefit breast cancer research, diagnosis and treatment.
30 that the number of “pink products” entering the market increases each fall. “Some are true cause-related marketing (CRM) promotions,” she writes, “ in which a company uses a charity’s name and reputation to sell its products, and in those cases, charities win through increased exposure and contributions and companies win through increased product sales. Other pink products are fakes, lining the pockets of greedy corporations trying to capitalize on people’s generosity.” In addition, some companies, such as Walgreens, will donate a given amount to a cause each year without that amount being contingent upon customer purchase of their breast cancer awareness products. The following are questions Lehman suggests asking oneself before purchasing a pink product: n Which charity does this product support? Do I support the charity’s mission and believe in its programs? n How is the charity receiving the contribution? Will simply purchasing the product result in a contribution to the charity or will I need to do other “homework” to make sure the contribution is received? n How much of the purchase price is being donated to the charity? n Is there a limit on the amount of money the company will donate to the
charity? Has the company reached that goal? n Can I make a bigger impact by donating directly to the charity? That said, trusty pink products can be found. Ulta Beauty’s Donate with a Kiss program gives more than 50 percent of every donation directly to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. One-hundred percent of the net profits ($3.86) from the sale of each $5 Breast Cancer Crusade Lips for Life Novelty Tote, found at shop.avon. com, will be donated to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, a program that has raised and donated more than $700 million to breast cancer programs since its creation in 1992. The article “20 Breast Cancer Products that Really Do Good” by Joanna Douglas on shine.yahoo. com lists products for which 50 to 100 percent of the proceeds go directly to a breast cancer charity. For those who are still in doubt about the legitimacy of these pink products, donating directly to a cause is a sound option. Here are a few organizations to check out: n American Cancer Society n Avon Foundation for Women n Breast Cancer Relief Foundation n Breast Cancer Research Foundation n Fashion Targets Breast Cancer n National Breast Cancer Foundation n Susan G. Komen for the Cure n Women’s Cancer Research Fund Those who wish to donate locally toward breast cancer diagnosis and treatment may consider giving to the Cancer Center of Excellence in Searcy.
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y grandmother was born Sept. 22, 1919 in Linwood, Pa. She met my grandfather at Sunoco Oil Company, where they both worked. They married and had three children — my two uncles and my mom. In 1973, Grandmom was diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctors saw fit to have her right breast removed and to give her radiation treatment. My mom, age 11 at the time, was frightened and clung closely to Grandmom, as closely as a young girl knows how to do. That was only natural, as she had just been told the doctors had given her mother only one to four more years to live. Yet, Grandmom, petite and gentle though she was, defied the doctors' pronouncement and fought to banish the disease from her body. She succeeded and was cured of cancer for the rest of her life. However, the radiation treatment had weakened her heart. On a frigid February day in 1994, she died of congestive heart failure. Although her physical heart was damaged, her true heart flourished — even growing stronger and stronger with every passing day. I knew Grandmom for only six years of my life, but I have vivid memories of her kindness and of our time together. She held me, laughed with me and talked to me in a voice that was ever-patient and gracious, never irritated or harsh. I watched her make Rice Krispies treats in her and Pop's old kitchen in Broomall, Pa. I remember she let me climb on her neatly made bed and explore the heavy wooden bedposts with my little fingers and run my hands along the patterning of the red and white comforter while she sat and talked to me. It was tradition for my family to play UNO when we went up to visit Pop and Grandmom. Pop relished playing "mean" cards on other players, but Grandmom held onto those cards as long as she could, usually ending the game with a losing hand because of it. If by chance she had no choice but to play a "Draw Four" card, for instance, she would apologize sweetly and
profusely to the player who had to draw the extra cards. I and others have noticed, especially as I have grown older, that I have many similarities to my grandmother. I have her heart-shaped face and petite figure, although she was more voluptuous than I. My birthday is the day before hers, separated by a few years, of course. People who knew my grandmom have said I look like her and also like my mom. My mom has told me I act like Grandmom at certain times, including when I coordinate my outfit just to go exercise. Grandmom always wanted to look put-together. Yet, we have our differences — some insignificant, others more meaningful. She had black hair, while I have brown, and she had fairer skin than I have. She was bigger-boned. I am quite certain than she was a sweeter, gentler person — not necessarily more compassionate, but perhaps better than I at showing it to others. My mom says Grandmom was a nice person and so am I, but since she herself isn't, niceness must have skipped a generation. While I heartily disagree with my mom about this, since I know her to be a very kind and giving person, she brings up an intriguing and even worrying point. I begin to wonder, which traits are passed on to offspring? Which ones skip a generation? Which ones never resurface, or at least not until much farther down the line? It is difficult not to worry about getting breast cancer. I know the odds are fairly high. I know my mom worries about it more than I do, which is what is so hard on me. I fear more for my mom's health than for my own. For one thing, being older than I am heightens her risk, as does being the daughter of a cancer victim. I know that this frightens her, and I can't bear to see her upset or hurting. For another, when I think of my mom having cancer, I feel
just as she must have felt with Grandmom. I feel like a helpless young girl terrified of losing her mother. I think what is important for both my mom and me to realize is that Grandmom didn't die of breast cancer. It was her radiation treatment, which initially did save her, that eventually claimed her life. If ever my mom or I were to struggle for our lives, perhaps we would find Grandmom's strength, of body and of character, had indeed been passed on to us. In addition, we would have more than three decades’ worth of medical advancements to improve our chances of survival. For that, I am thankful. Yet, I know that even if the cancer treatments were to fail, it would not be the worst fate to endure. People are meant to live and then to die. The worst fate, then, would be to live meaninglessly, without love and without God. I am reminded of something C.S. Lewis wrote in his book "The Problem of Pain": “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of freewills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself." God never promised us happiness, only joy. He didn't forbid us to suffer, but He promised to watch over us and grant us peace in our trials, if we trust in Him. We have the comfort of knowing that God is offering us more after this life — a place where no cancer can inflict and death will be no more. I believe this final verse of the hymn "Be Still My Soul" can comfort anyone who is suffering with cancer or who has lost someone close because of cancer. "Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on When we shall be forever with the Lord. When disappointment, grief and fear are gone, Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored. Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past All safe and blessed we shall meet at last." Marisa Lytle is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (501) 268-8621.
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You have been our everything since day one: the shoulder to cry on, the strength when we were weak, the courage when we were scared and the love needed when there was nothing left you could do or say. Now, we get to return the favor and give back everything you have always freely lavished on us.I know this will be a difficult season in our lives but Paul wrote to the Romans and said this, “... we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” So as a family, we will push forward and give glory to God for the things He has and will continue to do. As a wise woman (Mammie) once said, “There is no human in front of you, nor is there any physical being that can cure all your problems. There is only one entity that can see you through all of life’s journey and help you overcome all of its bumps and curves and that is our Heavenly Father.” We are all here for you and we all love you, now lets give this thing Hell! -Jordan and Jenna
The Daily Citizen
Saturday, October 22, 2011 • Page 5C
Cancer: Local women race for the cure today, join fight against breast cancer
Continued from Page 1C
said. “We discussed ways to get more people to sign up for the race and also ways to get more sponsors. Last year, we struggled getting sponsors because everyone sponsors everything — they’re spread out too thin.” This year, the Searcy team has four sponsors, the funds from whom will pay for T-shirts. They are Hoggard Team (RE/MAX), HealthCorp Searcy Athletic Club, Think Advertising and First Security Bank. White County Medical Center is functioning as a sponsor by contributing time and effort in the organization of the Searcy team. The Searcy team is the broad team representing Searcy that anyone can join. Other sub-teams, such as the First Security and HealthCorp teams, join under the Searcy team, while other teams from Searcy, such as the Searcy High School team, function on their own and are not associated with the Searcy team this year. “The reason we want as many people as possible to join the Searcy team, whether that be on their own or with a sub-group, is so we can have a big overall team representing Searcy at the race,” Overbay said. “We want our whole community to be in the fight against cancer.” Overbay added that WCMC wants to be involved in RFTC to support the community. “We want to be involved in Race for the Cure and Relay for Life for one big reason,” she said. “We want to support our community. Also, we want to support anything that is contributing to the fight against cancer.” According to Overbay, WCMC aims to have even more sponsorship and also more people sign up to be on the Searcy team next year. Kristi Thurmon helped coordinate the First Security Bank sub-team of the Searcy team. “My job has been to get our employees involved and excited about the race,” she said. “We’re really happy to be involved.” According to Thurmon, 25 women are participating on the First Security team. Dee Conway, coordinator for the Family Practice Associates team, also under the Searcy team, said the group has 28 people participating this year. “My daughter and I started doing Race for the Cure nine years ago,” Conway said. “We think it’s a great cause. I think everyone should participate.” Conway said Race for the Cure is particularly important to her because she had a breast cancer scare a few years ago. “I had a possible issue with breast cancer two or three years ago, but when I did the biopsy, with lots of prayers, I was clear,” she said. The Searcy High School team has participated for at least seven years and is doing so again, though not as a sub-team of the Searcy team. According to team cosponsor and English teacher Jaime Brown, 14 teachers and 51 students are on the SHS team. “This is my fourth year to participate on the Searcy Schools team and my second year to be a captain of the team,” Brown said. “Lori Nielsen and Trisha White help co-sponsor the team.” Brown explained why Race for the Cure is so important to Searcy High School. “Former English teacher and Future Teachers of America club sponsor Bobbie Coleman started the tradition of having a Searcy Schools team,” she said. “Mrs. Coleman taught in the Searcy district for more than 30 years and started the team because she had a
“The reason we want as many people as possible to join the Searcy team, whether that be on their own or with a sub-group, is so we can have a big overall team representing Searcy at the race. We want our whole community to be in the fight against cancer.” Anna Overbay
Event specialist for the White County Medical Center and coordinator of the Searcy Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure team.
long-standing fight against breast cancer. "Because I helped her with FTA, I took over the role of team captain when Mrs. Coleman lost her fight against breast cancer two years ago. Lori Nielsen is a veteran teacher at SHS and best friend to Mrs. Coleman, and Trisha White is an SHS English teacher and mentee of Mrs. Coleman.” “Participating in Race for the Cure is a tradition that is near and dear to my heart. So many students and teachers in our district have personally been affected by
Pictured here are representatives of Race for the Cure teams that sponsored the overall Searcy team this year. From left to right: Amy McGlothlin and Dee Conway with Family Practice Associates; Anna Overbay, event specialist for White County Medical Center; Kristin Davidson with Downtown Church of Christ; Brooke Huggins with the La Quinta Inn team, sponsored by Quest Energy; and Kristi Thurmon with First Security Bank. Marisa Lytleemail@example.com cancer or have lost a loved Searcy Schools will partici- participating in Race for Christ, Downtown Church one to cancer. As long as pate.” the Cure today include of Christ, Gym Stars and there is a Race for the Cure, Other teams from Searcy Cloverdale Church of Quest Energy Services.
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Page 6C • Saturday, October 22, 2011
The Daily Citizen
Cancer struggle makes marriage stronger
Bruce Black takes a walk with his wife, Robin Black, who has been cured of breast cancer for 16 years. Black said her husband gave her comfort and moral support all the time she was struggling with the disease. Marisa Lytlefirstname.lastname@example.org
Black: Cancer survivor tells her story
Continued from Page 1C
Bruce’s birthday, and we had planned on celebrating in Memphis, where we lived at the time.” The result of the first mammogram showed a large mass in Black’s right breast, which prompted a second, more indepth mammogram. “From there, they sent me right to the surgeon’s office,” she said. “The surgeon told me he thought there was a 99 percent chance that it was cancer. He said that if it was cancer, he would want to do a masectomy because the lump was large; if it wasn’t cancer, he was just going to remove the lump. Well, it was cancer, and a few days later, I woke up with a total masectomy of my right breast.” The time between her first mammogram and the masectomy was only five days. According to Black, the cancer was growing so quickly the doctors had to act in kind. “It felt so surreal. I thought, ‘I’m only 38. I’m too young for this,’” she said, “ I had never been sick, and I had no family history of cancer.” After surgery, Black spent six months going through chemotherapy. “It seems like losing your breast would be enough, but no,” she said, “You also have to throw up and look terrible and lose your hair.” Black continued follow-up doctor visits for five years, in which she had her blood checked and had breast X-rays taken. “They told me I had a 30 percent chance of recurrence, which I was told was pretty high,” she said. “So I was a
mess for a while. Any time I got sick, I was afraid it might be a return of some other kind of cancer. They told me lung cancer would be the most likely kind if it were to recur.” Black said that now, 16 years later, she is over her fear. “As every year passed, I had a new perspective,” she said. “Looking back, I can see how God blessed me over and over again. I’ve grown closer to Bruce and closer to God. “Bruce gave me so much comfort and moral support. He always said the right things at the right time. He would hold my hair back when I had to throw up. He went to all the treatments with me. He totally babied me. In fact, he still babies me.” Bruce said it was very important to him to take care of Robin. “I guess it sounds a little old-fashioned, but I feel I have a responsibility to take care of her,” he said. “There are times when I need her and when she needs me. There were times when she was hurting so much or so afraid of what was going on that she needed encouragement and someone to hold her close. I just wanted to be there for her.” Black said the only sideeffects she has now after all these years are lymphedema in her right arm and cataracts from the chemo therapy. “It’s really a good thing, though,” she said with a laugh, “because I had been nearsighted all my life. Then, I got to have the cataracts, and now I have 20/20 vision.” Ten years after her masectomy, Black decided to have
breast reconstruction surgery. “The reason I waited so long was that I knew reconstruction would be an involved process and meant more surgery. The reconstruction took eight months and multiple surgeries. I also had my left breast reduced to match the right.” Now free of cancer, Black advises other women to act immediately if they suspect they may have cancer. “If you have a lump, go have it checked right away,” she said. “If you ever do have an experience like this, it is a chance for you to build your faith because faith that isn’t tested is weak faith. I think your attitude counts for a lot in how the outcome is. I did have moments of despair. I don’t think you could be human and not have those, but they didn’t last.” “We just feel so thankful and so blessed that things turned out OK,” her husband said. “ We feel as though she lived because she had things left to do; there were things the Lord wanted her to do, and he didn’t want to take her home right then. We tried to keep our eyes open to see what that was.” The Blacks have three grown children, twin daughters, 36, and a son, 34, who live in Wyoming, Georgia and Mississippi. They moved from Memphis to Searcy in April of last year. “I’m a nurse and have been one my entire life,” Black said. “Since we moved to Searcy, I’ve reached my career goal of being a housewife. That’s what I’ve wanted to be my whole life.”
ay 5, 1995. It was my 43rd birthday and we were going to celebrate. All we had to do first was drop by the hospital for Robin's mammogram, and then we had the rest of the weekend to ourselves. This was going to be Robin's first mammogram. A few weeks earlier, she had felt a lump in her right breast, and after mentioning it to her family physician, he had scheduled it for her. I sat in the little waiting room while she went back for the procedure, and I hopped up quickly when I saw her coming back down the hall. Finally we were ready to go. But she motioned me back to my seat. The technician wanted to do another mammogram, and she wanted a doctor to look at it before we left. Still I honestly didn't think it was serious, and I certainly didn't expect it to be cancer. Robin was only 38. There was no history of breast cancer in her family and she had always been so strong and healthy. She couldn't possibly have cancer. But she did. By 2 p.m., we were in the surgeon's examination room learning all about our options and risks. And just five days later, we reported to St. Francis Hospital in Memphis for surgery. There was a slim chance that the lump she discovered was not cancer, and as I waited I prayed that it wouldn't be. But in less than hour, I got a call from surgery. The lump had been removed and tested. It was cancer and Robin's breast would be removed, as well as all the lymph nodes under her right arm. I was heartbroken and afraid. It would be several more nerve racking days before we learned the good news that the cancer had not spread yet to her lymph system and it was “probably” isolated to the breast that was gone. As unprepared as we were for everything that just happened, the next few weeks and months would prove to be even more difficult. They sent Robin home from the hospital with drainage tubes dangling from her side, a cotton filled prosthesis and a prescription for a permanent prosthesis and several special bras. Needless to say, neither of us had ever shopped for a breast prosthesis and prosthetic bras before. The time would later come when we became experts at it. We both still find it surprising that no one ever mentioned reconstruction at this stage of the process. It would be 10 years later before Robin had reconstructive surgery. There was also the question of chemotherapy. We talked to several doctors and the general consensus was always the same: Don't risk having the cancer come back. Have the chemother-
apy. It's really not that bad. Most women keep working and never miss a beat. It's no big deal. Well, it wasn't long before we learned that: 1) Putting prescription poison into your system is a very big deal; and 2) It made Robin sicker than she had ever been in her life. She was not able to work at all, and just when she was starting to feel a little better, it was time for yet another round of chemotherapy. This went on for weeks. But I think the things that really affected us the most were the intangible things we had to face. For example, the constant dread that Robin felt every time she felt an ache or pain. Was the cancer coming back? Did that dreadful chemotherapy have no effect at all? Was she going to lose more body parts? Was she going to die this time? I would assure her over and over again that everything was OK, but it was years before these feelings went away. Then there was the issue of how she felt as a woman. I tried to reassure her regularly that she was still beautiful and desirable, because I really thought she was. And still is. But it was a long time before she started believing it again, and I'm not entirely sure she has ever believed it like she did before her surgery. It wasn't just her breast they took. It was also a big part of who she was. And you can't begin to imagine the day-to-day struggles of living with a breast prosthesis. At first, she thought she would just wear it now and then and go “lopsided” most of the time, but that didn't last. She was always too self-conscious of how she looked. She felt that people were staring at her because she looked different. So she wore the prosthesis every time she went out, and that created its own set of difficulties. For example, her fear that the prosthesis was showing or that her breasts weren't level. I don't know how many thousands of times she asked me: “Is my boob showing?” or “Are my boobs even?” Now, 16 years after she was first diagnosed with cancer, I can honestly say that it has not been easy, but it has been tremendously rewarding. I have heard of men who end up leaving their wives after a mastectomy, and men like that make me ashamed to be a man. There's absolutely no excuse for that kind of cowardice or shallowness. Robin and I have used this crisis as a
way to grow closer together, to love each other more and to grow up some. And I'm not just talking about holding her hair back while she puked or reminding her for the millionth time that she is the most beautiful woman in the world. Our growth has been about learning that you can't take anything for granted. It's about figuring out what's really important and what's not. It's about looking into the eyes of the woman you love and realizing that, even though you almost lost her, you got another chance. Those are the things that helped us grow. We not only grew closer to one another, but breast cancer drove us both into God's loving arms. Sure, we went through the anger phase and then the self-pity phase and then the “just live for today” phase. But in the end, we finally realized that God really does work for the good of those who love Him. That He really does care deeply for us. That He only wants what's best for each of us. Now, we are not only totally devoted to one another, but totally devoted to Him, too. Of course, not every story has a happy ending. Several years after Robin's struggles with breast cancer, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a mastectomy and the doctors were so sure that they had gotten all of it that they didn't even suggest that she have chemotherapy. That common experience really brought the two of them together. But, in less than two years, the cancer returned. A few short months later, she was gone. And when it came time for her to go, the only person she wanted to be there with her was Robin. I sincerely hope that what has happened to our family never happens to your family. But if breast cancer or some crises like breast cancer affect you or someone you love, remember it's not the end of the world — even if your story doesn't have a happy ending. Get the very best treatment possible. Try to keep a positive attitude and use this very precious time wisely. Grow closer to those that you love, and grow closer to the One who loves you. It will be hard. It will take tremendous effort. There is no easy way around it, but it will be worth the effort as long as you don't give up. An ancient proverb says: Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. Breast cancer is certainly one of life's powerful tempests, but Robin and I can honestly say that we are more skillful sailors having been through it. Bruce Black is The Daily Citizen’s national accounts manager. He can be reached at email@example.com, or (501) 268-8621.
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The Daily Citizen
Breast cancer battle includes many proactive steps
The Associated Press Healthy and in her mid-30s, Amy Harper knew her chances of developing breast cancer were low as she conducted a regular self-examination one night at home in 2009. But her findings that evening nearly two years ago ended up saving her life. Harper was diagnosed with breast cancer soon after, at age 36 — far younger than the 50 years or older range doctors normally deem “at risk.” The Holland, Mich., woman immediately began treatment and today is in remission. The experience took her down a rough road riddled with fear, but she is thankful for the personal growth and for how she forever will hold a special bond with others facing a similar diagnosis. Harper now carries an important message she forever will share: Cancer is never out of the question. Start self-breast exams early and keep an open mind. “I didn’t want this whole journey to be in vain, to go through this and not try to persuade others,” Harper said. Dr. Liberty Hoberman, a general surgeon who works with breast cancer patients and consults with others to determine their risk, considers Harper an example of what can be accomplished through proactive medical care. “You have to be an advocate for your own health, you really do,” Hoberman said. “The more we talk about it and the sooner we get to any disease, the better.” Hoberman groups breast cancer risk into two larger categories: factors that are preventable, such as lifestyle choices, and those that are natural, such as
physical make-up and genetics. Of all breast cancer cases, 85 percent occur in woman 50 or older. Woman who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer are at an increased risk — almost double, if that person is a first-degree relative. If prostate cancer is part of a family’s background, that also comes into play. “There was always the myth that dad’s side of the family doesn’t count. That’s not true,” Hoberman said. She urges women to sit down with a doctor in their early adult years, as soon as a patient and physician relationship develops. A doctor can run through risk factors to determine whether hormone therapy or other early preventative measures could lessen chances of problems down the road. The website breastcancerprevention. com is one of several that can help a woman to calculate her basic risk of developing the disease, based upon factors such as age of a mother at the time she gave birth. Hoberman highlighted these factors, but emphasized the final report is one that should be considered only as a tool. She urged woman to ask about the density of their breast tissue after having a mammogram; the denser the tissue, the higher the risk for disease. Those who have a strong family history and dense tissue can qualify for MRI testing that helps give doctors a much clearer picture of the makeup of a woman’s tissue. If a woman’s risk factor is high, doctors might recommend hormone therapy, something that helps to decrease the
body’s production of estrogen or block the receptors in breast cells, Hoberman said. If a woman begins taking this medication early on and continues for five years — often with limited, if any side effects — she could cut her risk of developing breast cancer in half. Doctors can help to make sure a patient takes the medication correctly and for only the necessary amount of time. Other lifestyle choices, such as regular exercise and a focus on healthy eating, also help reduce the risk of relapse or cancer development. These days, Harper is around town proudly wearing a T-shirt she and her husband designed after her diagnosis. The shirt shows a lady with pink boxing gloves and bears a message: “Fight like a girl.” After all, she said, that’s what this battle is about.
Breast cancer fight leads to advocacy
The Associated Press You can spend many years of your life meticulously planning out your future, but sometimes, it all unfolds for you — when you least expect it. Being a leader in the fight against cancer was never in the cards for Brighton resident Lorraine Clements. She loved her work. She was content and satisfied. But then, one day, her life’s plan shifted. In 2005, she made the move from Texas to New York. And in that time, she missed a year of mammograms. In 2006, she went in for a regular check-up. “They told me I had cancer,” she said. “Some people remember the exact date. I remember exactly where I was, but all the dates and times are a blur.” It’s that fast, and it’s that simple, she said. All of the sudden, she was unwillingly one of so many women tossed in to the struggle against breast cancer. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation, and endured the exhausting mental and physical toll. A year after she was diagnosed, the cancer reappeared, but this time in a
noninvasive way. This meant that she could either monitor the cancer and hope for the best, or take the aggressive approach and have a double mastectomy. “I decided to take the aggressive approach,” she said. “ It was very uncomfortable for me, but I decided that I didn’t want to watch it. Every mammogram was terrifying for me, and I just felt that it was better. I just didn’t want to watch anything.” Clements, now a survivor of the disease, jumped in to donate her time and energy to every cancer event she could in the Rochester area. She volunteered, and along the way met several people involved in the American Cancer Society. It was right around this time, she said, that she heard of a job opening for director of the B. Thomas Golisano Hope Lodge and Hospitality House in Rochester. “I think once you go through that treatment, people come out on the other side wanting to do something for cancer,” said Clements. And so, she did. She applied, she got the job, and she hasn’t looked back since.
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“This is probably the best job I’ve ever had,” she said, smiling.
Connecting with patients
It’s maybe also been the hardest in many ways, she said, but having recently gone through what the patients at the Hope Lodge are currently battling, she has the ability to connect on a very personal level. “Sometimes when people are facing losing their hair, being sick or having side effects, it’s just the fact that there’s someone here on staff who’s been through it. I can say you know what? You can do this ... I think it gives me just another part of empathy.” The Golisano Hope Lodge/Hospitality House in Rochester is one of 31 in the country. It’s one of three that exist in New York state (the others are in Buffalo and New York City), with 30 rooms available for cancer patients and their caregivers to come and stay for free. The lodge opened last June, and in its first year was able to serve over 2,000
patients, said Clements. “It’s a great resource and it’s wonderful to get the word out,” she said. People come from all across the country to stay at the lodge, depending on where they are getting treatment. One of the best things about having a space like this to live in is having an environment where you can share stories, and find others who can relate. “Sometimes it’s hard to talk about cancer to people that aren’t going through it,” said Clements. “The patient is being strong for the caregiver, and the caregiver is being strong for the patient. Sometimes they’re both hurting.” In the lodge, there is a community kitchen with several tables, and a sizable working kitchen. What started out as just a space to eat and make meals has now visibly become a place of community strength, said Clements. “It was funny, when we first opened this up all the tables were separated,” said Clements, looking around the kitchen. “And now you can see that all the tables have been joined.”
Breast cancer survivor’s tale
As someone with no family history of breast cancer, Karen Bertrand was shocked to find that the hard lump on her breast she found in the shower was cancerous.
Breast cancer survivor’s reminder: ‘You’re not alone’
The Associated Press No woman wants to make the decisions that Karen Bertrand was forced to make about post-cancer breast reconstruction. After undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, Bertrand of Penfield, N.Y., had to decide whether to live without her breasts. “That was something I knew I didn’t want to do,” she said. Bertrand had already undergone in 2006 a single masectomy that removed the breast where she first found a five-centimeter lump about one year earlier. For safety reasons, she decided to have it removed and replaced with tissue taken from her stomach. As someone with no family history of breast cancer, she was shocked to find that the hard lump on her breast she found in the shower was cancerous. The fact that it had only been a month since her last mammogram only added to her surprise. “I did everything I was supposed to do and they still couldn’t find it,” said Bertrand. “This lump shows up, and I’m like, what’s that?” An ultrasound showed that her suspicions were correct, and an MRI confirmed that the lump was cancerous. For the next year she underwent treatment until all traces of the disease were gone. It’s been five years since she was first diagnosed, and Bertrand is still cancer-free. Her advice to women like her and their families is simple. “There’s a lot of help out there — you’re not alone,” she said. And while friends and family provided the immediate support during her illness, she wanted to give back to the community, specifically Rochester, N.Y.-area organizations like the Breast Cancer Coalition, American Cancer Society and Gilda’s Club, who helped her during the most difficult time in her life. The ACS, for example, held a “Look Good, Feel Better” clinic for chemo patients to learn how to apply
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makeup in lieu of having no eyelashes or eyebrows. The research and programming to help people like her inspired her to do more. “I feel like I’ve benefited from the research that was done before, and now I’m supporting research to help people who will benefit from it in the future,” she said. In 2010 she participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Rochester, where close to 10,000 people touched by the disease form teams to walk and help raise money for ACS. To make her team stand out from the sea of pink shirts during the event she enlisted others for help. Her daughter Kasey, a graphic design student, designed a special logo and the shirts were printed by Kathe D’Alfonso of Penfield, who runs her own promotional screen printing and apparel embroidery business called Expozures. Together they started a website with the help of local web designers at Pro Site Plus to sell their team shirts online to support ACS. Last year they raised more than $20,000 for the organization, and this year they expanded the selection to include brown and pink T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and long-sleeve shirts to broaden the appeal to both men and women. D’Alfonso is also a cancer survivor, and says the opportunity to give back to cancer research was a cause she could get excited about. “I love every project that comes across my desk, and I think it was an honor,” she said D’Alfonso. Bertrand recalls the way loved ones delivered homecooked meals to her home when she was sick, and the time her friend sent her a box of colorful clown wigs during her chemo treatments to help cheer her up. No matter the obstacle the disease presents, it’s never an experience one goes through alone. “It’s very humbling,” she said. Every two minutes, a woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer. In fact, breast cancer is the leading cancer among Caucasian and African American women. Mammography screenings are a woman’s best change for detecting breast cancer early, so get yours today.
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Page 8C • Saturday, October 22, 2011
The Daily Citizen
Group, survivor aims for Battling, and winning, breast cancer cure by 2020 against breast cancer Strength through faith
Breast cancer survivor Teresa Whatley also shares with fellow cancer survivors her favorite bible verse, Philippians 4:13 — "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
The Associated Press In February 2010, at age 50, Teresa Whatley heard news that every woman dreads. Irregularities were found on her annual mammogram results, and she was asked to come back for more tests, which revealed that she had malignant micro calcifications in one breast. Because the cancer had worked its way into the tissue surrounding it, Whatley was told by her doctors that she needed surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. "Of course, I was scared," she said, "I cried nonstop for two weeks after I found out. But I finally decided I needed to straighten up. I talked to my Sunday school teacher at church, and she asked me what the worst thing that could happen was. When I realized that the worst could happen was death, and that's not the worst thing that can happen to you — I decided I could handle this. I was ready to go with the doctor's plan — I didn't want to leave my son alone." Whatley and her son, Chad, have been each other's family since her husband of ten years died while Chad was just a baby. Chad was in college at Arkansas State University and became Teresa's caregiver on the weekends -- even nursing her after her lumpectomy surgery, which she had during his spring break. Chemotherapy was a challenge for Whatley, bringing on constantly increasing fatigue throughout her course of treatment, but she never missed work. She timed the treatments so that she could use each weekend to recover, and be back at work on Monday. Whatley is the Administrative Assistant to the president and CEO of Southern Bancorp. The toughest emotional part of the process was when side
effects of the chemo started to kick in. Whatley watched her fingernails turn blue, her toenails fall off, and her hair start to come out in clumps. "I decided just to shave it," she said, "I didn't want to watch it just slowly come out, and I didn't want to be out somewhere in town or at work when it did, so on Mother's Day, I just shaved it off." Whatley's best friend went with her to pick out a wig, and she said "We both just sat in the car and cried after I bought it, because all my hair was gone, but my friend told me she didn't care if I had no hair -- we were just so glad I was still alive." Six weeks after the chemo ended, Whatley began radiation treatments, which left her with severe burns on her skin. Clothes hurt when she put them on, and even after the burns healed, she was left with scars. Treatments were finished by September 2010, and Whatley said she could never have survived without the support of her friends, family and God. "I could really feel the fact that people were praying for me," she said, "because everything stayed so calm throughout the whole ordeal. I had peace. It was hard to have no energy, but that is all starting to come back now."
The Associated Press It was 10 a.m., 10 years ago this New Year’s Eve when Marianne Sargent, of Greece, N.Y., found out she had breast cancer. “It was like, ‘I think you’ve called the wrong number,” says Sargent, a retired elementary school teacher. “Typical beginner mistakes. ‘I feel fine, nobody in my family has breast cancer, and where did this come from?’ It was definitely a totally out-of-theblue, knock-your-socks-off, unexpected experience.” Sargent had a benign tumor removed, a fairly routine procedure, when doctors found cancer cells lurking in the area. Many appointments, several surgeries and five years of medication later, Sargent, a wife, mom and grandma, is cancer-free. Her story, she knows, is a successful one. But the experience jumpstarted her interest in research and patient care legislation, and now she and many others like her at the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester in New York are working to advocate for breast cancer patients. Amidst a myriad of pink ribbons, funding drives and walks during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the work on the advocacy end goes on year-round. “Really, who isn’t aware?” Sargent says. “There’s different levels of understanding, but everybody knows, everybody has empathy because we think of this as something that happens to people
that’s out of our control. But the bottom line, we need to move beyond those stages in order to end breast cancer.” Sargent chairs the advocacy committee at BCCR. The group reviews pending state and federal legislation that would affect breast cancer research, health care or involving the ban of chemical agencies linked to cancer. Sargent became involved with BCCR when she was undergoing treatment, and then she joined its volunteer ranks on the advocacy committee, of which she’s been chair of since 2009. “I guess it opened my eyes,” Sargent says, “It was a whole education into an another language and a science I knew nothing about.” The group works to ensure legislation gets passed that can help patients, but they’re not paid lobbyists. They had a victory in recent weeks, when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that would ensure coverage for oral chemotherapy drugs, whereas before it was only applicable to intravenous treatments. And there’s been past efforts on securing insurance for a woman who has no coverage upon diagnosis. Just like learning medical jargon, pouring over pages of legislation is a new hobby of sorts for Sargent. “The hardest part for us as advocates who are not scientists, who are not doctors, is trying to wrap our heads around what’s a really good piece of legislation,” she said. “Sometimes someone comes to you with what really amounts to a sales pitch, but sometimes the more we learn the more we realize there’s some good parts or some parts that don’t make sense or don’t quite fit with our philosophy.” One bill that the advocacy com-
mittee is currently reviewing is before Congress. Presently, Medicaid only funds breast prosthetics that are standard sizes, while custom-fitted ones are not covered. “Should the sizes not work for you and you would need a custom prosthetic, they’re not going to cover that,” Sargent said. “A person who might elect to have a breast reconstruction, that would be covered, which is actually a much more extensive medical procedure that will wind up costing more money than the custom-made prothesis.” Now it’s finding out the logic behind the current system, what would change, and what women who’ve gone through the system have experienced. The group is careful, Sargent says, to understand something before pushing for it. In addition to legislation work, the advocacy committee and BCCR keep their eyes peeled for other ways to fight to end breast cancer. The National Breast Cancer Coalition has a mission of finding a cure by 2020. Sargent says the field begs for transparency, with privately funded research often done behind closed doors. If the medical community at large could learn from each other’s failures, it could help direct someone towards trying a new approach. “Now how will we invest those valuable research dollars, especially in an economy when those dollars are fewer and need to be spent wisely?” she said. “Let’s be sure that what we’re doing makes sense.” Holly Anderson, executive director of BCCR, says that one of the group’s initiatives is to fund research for new ideas, or a hypothesis without data, that may not qualify for a grant on a larger scale.
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Dr. Stacie McCord Oncologist White County Oncology
Dr. Cheryl Payne Radiation Oncologist CARTI
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Dr. Ryan Koch Oncologist White County Oncology