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pink Ink for

A special publication in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month brought to you by and the

Pink meets the greens


Someone who’s been there


Spoken like a survivor


The other battle


Pink Benefit Golf Tournament raises funds for breast cancer patient assistance fund

Breast-Friends Forever group organized for cancer survivors and the newly diagnosed

A decade after being diagnosed with breast cancer, St. Joseph woman offers advice

Local partnership works to tear down financial barriers to screening, treatment

10 Standing Firm at every age in the Fight Against Breast Cancer Stevenson Staying abreast of risks

Know signs and symptoms of breast cancer

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Pink meets the greens Pink Benefit Golf Tournament raises funds for breast cancer patient assistance fund By SHEA CONNER St. Joseph News-Press

Before NFL players started wearing pink cleats in October or ballplayers in the majors broke out their pink bats on Mother’s Day, golfers in St. Joseph were contributing to their own fight against breast cancer by playing in the Pink Benefit Golf Tournament at the St. Joseph Country Club. The yearly tournament was first held in May 2008, and each year the event has raised approximately $15,000 for Heartland Health’s breast cancer patient assistance fund. The program aids women who can’t afford mammograms, surgeries or ongoing care after surgeries. “There’s hardly a person out there that can’t say they know someone who’s had breast cancer, or know someone who knows someone,” says Jackie Runyan, Heartland Health gift shop manager and tournament organizer. “This is just one way they can help those people.”

This year’s tournament will start at 1 p.m. Oct. 3 at the St. Joseph Country Club. A luncheon will be held beforehand at 11:30 a.m. Teams of four will compete for the championship in the “best ball” event (each player on the team plays his or her own golf ball throughout the round, and on each hole the low score — or “best ball” — of the group serves as the team score). Each team will pay a $400 entry fee and will be separated into all-male, all-female or coed divisions. “Golf tournaments make lots of money because people love playing around here,” Ms. Runyan says. “With this tournament, they get fun for their money and they’re helping a great cause.” Ms. Runyan says the competition should be pretty stiff. Well-known local golfers Greg Diederich, Terry Hochenauer, Rob Verbeck and Scotty Burnham are just a few of the participants in this year’s tourney. “It’s not just a bunch of clunks

out there,” Ms. Runyan laughs. Those who aren’t blessed with great golfing skills can help out in other ways, Ms. Runyan says. Heartland needs volunteers and greeters to work during the event. And businesses can gain sponsorship by donating cash, raffle prizes or items for gift bags, among many other things. Ms. Runyan already has gathered many prizes and raffle items, including an autographed Kansas City Chiefs jersey, autographed prints of Phil Mickelson and recent British Open winner Darren Clarke, as well as a book and a hat signed by Tom Watson. Many local businesses have contributed gift certificates, too. Those interested in contributing to the Pink Benefit Golf Tournament may call Ms. Runyan at 2716015 or send her an e-mail at jackie. Shea Conner can be reached at

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Someone who’s been there

Breast-Friends Forever group organized for cancer survivors and the newly diagnosed By SYLVIA ANDERSON St. Joseph News-Press

Although breast cancer treatments have improved significantly in the past decade, the mental anguish is still the same when you are told you have cancer. You hope for the best, but worry if it’s the worst, not knowing how this will change your life. No matter what the diagnosis, you are in uncharted territory, wondering if you are making the right decisions. Diane Dunavant, a 20-year breast cancer survivor, remembers all the concerns she had, some of which she didn’t feel comfortable discussing with her family. “When you are going through something like this, you want to be strong,” Mrs. Dunavant says. “My husband was very supportive, and my two daughters. But they were afraid ... they didn’t want to lose their mommy. I had to say I’m going to be fine when I was scared to death.” She felt like there was nobody she could really talk to. Doctors can be intimidating, friends often don’t understand — unless they’ve gone down that road before. “A gal came into the hospital room,”

Mrs. Dunavant remembers. “I will never forget her face. She was a breast cancer survivor and wanted to give me some information and wanted to answer my questions.” There are few things more comforting than to talk to a woman who has successfully survived what you must go through, Mrs. Dunavant says. She wishes she could thank her for all the help she gave her. Then she began to think, what if you had a group of cancer survivors who could become friends and help others who had just been diagnosed? That would be a way to give back and be even better. And that is the idea behind “BreastFriends Forever,” a new group that meets once a month at the Heartland Health Breast Center. It’s an idea Mrs. Dunavant worked up with Kristen Thatcher, nurse navigator at the Breast Center. They launched the group about five months ago. “We had about 20 to 30 women that came,” Mrs. Dunavant says, “which was wonderful. They were surprisingly very open about their treatments.” The goal is to work on projects to help others dealing with breast cancer, while getting to know each other. A book and T-shirts are in the works. Survivors

attending are anywhere from six to 30 years out, and ages vary from 30-something to 80-something. “Every woman and man going through breast cancer can join us before or after,” Ms. Thatcher says. “The whole focus is geared to what they can do to help other survivors.” She tries to pair newly diagnosed women with a survivor who has had similar experiences. And although they provide support to each other, this is more than a support group in the traditional sense. “We’ve steered clear from using the word ‘support’ group,” Ms. Thatcher says. “It’s more of pay-it-forward group.” The hope is that by helping each other, they will encourage future survivors to do the same. Then when it’s all said and done, they will come away with lifelong friends — breast-friends forever. Meetings run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. the first Tuesday of the month at the Breast Center at Heartland Regional Medical Center (by the cafeteria private dining room 3 and 4.) For more information, call the Breast Center at 271-PINK (7465).

When you are going through something like this, you want to be strong. My husband was very supportive, and my two daughters. But they were afraid ... they didn’t want to lose their mommy. I had to say I’m going to be fine when I was scared to death. — DIANE DUNAVANT, breast cancer survivor

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Spoken like a survivor A decade after being diagnosed with breast cancer, St. Joseph woman offers advice By ERIN WISDOM St. Joseph News-Press

Betty Moutray didn’t think a decade down the road when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2001. It all happened so fast: The discovery of the lump, caused by an aggressive, fast-growing cancer that had reached stage three; the official diagnosis; the mastectomy. Even when she was out of surgery, thinking way into the future wasn’t a luxury Ms. Moutray, then 56, allowed herself — especially not after having lost her husband to cancer a year earlier. “My husband had just died. 9/11 had just happened,” she says. “Then you start thinking about your own mortality, and it doesn’t look way out there.” Twelve rounds of chemotherapy came after she’d recovered from surgery, and she remembers losing her hair as the worst part of it all. But it’s a cost she counts as worth it now, as she approaches her 10th anniversary of being declared cancer-free. And

having the status and perspective of a survivor, Ms. Moutray also has advice for those recently diagnosed with breast cancer, as well as women in general. At the top of her list is preventative screening — which especially stands out to her given that she’d never had a mammogram prior to her diagnosis. “That’s the key, right there, is those mammograms,” she says. Although she didn’t take advantage of those as early as she wishes she had, one thing she did make use of is the power of positive thinking, even while struggling with the exhausting effects of chemotherapy while maintaining a full-time secretarial job at the Division for Family Services. “Oh man, you get sick. And you’re scared,” she says. “But the more positive you are about things, the better off you are.” Ms. Moutray adds that her family and friends were especially helpful in keeping her afloat emotionally — especially a number of friends who had battled breast cancer themselves. Among those is Patricia Quackenbush, who was diagnosed in 1984 and again in 1987.

“Everyone knows I’ve had breast cancer, so when she was diagnosed, she called me,” Ms. Quackenbush says. She adds that her top advice to those diagnosed with breast cancer is something she didn’t do until her second time going through treatment: “Take control of yourself. Don’t feel overwhelmed by all the doctors and procedures because it’s still your body.” What enabled her to take more control the second time, she adds, was knowing what to expect — which a woman can do without having already experienced treatment for herself. That’s where advice from others who have been there comes in handy, and of course, hearing the facts from someone who’s a longtime cancer survivor has to be encouraging. Ms. Moutray knows there’s always a chance of a reoccurrence. But rather than focusing on that possibility, she has reason to celebrate the span of life since her diagnosis that she didn’t initially assume would be so long. “I’m glad I’ve made it 10 years,” she says. Erin Wisdom can be reached at

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The other battle

Local partnership works to tear down financial barriers to screening, treatment By KEVIN KRAUSKOPF St. Joseph News-Press

A breast cancer diagnosis is scary enough. Paying for treatment? That can be downright frightening. “Financially, it can be devastating,” says Kristen Thatcher, a breast health nurse navigator at Heartland’s Breast Health Center. That’s where a partnership of the Breast Health Center, Social Welfare Board and St. Joseph YWCA comes in. More than just the annual Mammathon, a screening drive designed to get as many women in the area as possible signed up for a mammogram, these organizations work year-round to fight breast cancer in Northwest Missouri. Throughout the entire process — screening, treatment and after care — these groups connect qualifying women to no-cost or low-cost services in the area, funded by the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the state program

Show-Me Healthy Women and the Avon Breast Health Outreach Program. The YWCA’s main role in the partnership is educational outreach. One such program is Lunch & Learn, which the YWCA will sponsor at noon Oct. 12, 19 and 26. Lunch will be provided for the first 30 women to register for each date. Call 232-4481 to make a reservation. Jeannette James, women’s resource director for the YWCA, says the message of Lunch & Learn is the same one they preach all year: early detection. “If (a woman) has breast cancer, the earlier she finds out about it the better her chances for survival,” Ms. James says. Linda Judah, the Social Welfare Board’s executive director, says it’s a message that, given the data, bears repeating. In Buchanan County, only 61.8 percent of women receive an annual

screening, according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Greater Kansas City affiliate. The correlating rate of late-stage diagnosis — 5.7 percent of all cases in the county — is significantly higher than average than in the 17 counties covered by Komen Kansas City across Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas. Translation: Fewer women in Buchanan County are receiving screenings, and more women are being diagnosed at an advanced stage where treatment is less effective. The Social Welfare Board seeks to address this need by providing clinical breast exams, and mammogram referrals when needed, to qualifying women in the area. To qualify under Show-Me Healthy Women guidelines, a patient must be a Missouri resident and earn 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level. While the Social Welfare Board partners with the YWCA for numerous

health fairs and outreach programs, it refers women to Heartland’s Breast Health Center when a clinical exam turns up a potential problem. The organizations cooperate to ensure financial support follows a breast cancer patient through the entirety of the treatment system. Ms. Thatcher, at the Breast Health Center, says patients who fall between the cracks of the state program often can find assistance through funds provided by the Komen Foundation or Heartland’s financial assistance programs. Ms. Judah says the Social Welfare Board hopes to strengthen the partnership among itself, Heartland and the YWCA and continue to improve breast cancer care in the region. “As a community,” she says, “we can’t do enough to fight breast cancer.” Kevin Krauskopf can be reached at

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Staying abreast of risks

By JENNIFER GORDON St. Joseph News-Press

There’s no magic shield to protect against breast cancer. Many of the risk factors — age, gender, genes, age of first period and age menopause began — can’t be helped. Some women will be more susceptible to cancer than others. As frustrating as it can be for an otherwise healthy woman to develop breast cancer though, Kristen Thatcher advises patients to take heart. “When breast cancer is caught early, it’s curable,” says the Heartland Breast Health Center nurse navigator. Of the unavoidable risks, age is the biggest. The American Cancer Society reports that two-thirds of women who get breast cancer are over the age of 55. Immediate family history raises a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer. Women who have had relatives develop breast cancer at an early age, in their 30s or 40s, should start getting yearly mammograms 10 years before the age their relative was diagnosed to help monitor their risk. Having had breast cancer also raises your risk of developing it again, as does having non-malignant tumors in your breast. Jeanette James, director of women’s resources at the YWCA, runs into misconceptions about risk when doing the YWCA’s educational outreach events.

Know signs and symptoms of breast cancer

“A lot of people don’t realize that the father’s side of the family, if their father has a history of prostrate cancer, that puts them at risk for breast cancer,” she says.

TEST YOUR RISK Gene testing through BRACAnalysis is available to see if women carry mutated genes of the tumor-suppressing BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are linked to 5 to 10 percent of cancers, according to the Cancer Society. The Gail model of Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool offers a free option to determine likelihood. Women can fill out an online relative risk test (available at to measure their five-year chance of developing breast cancer. The test poses questions such as the age of the first menstrual cycle, first birth and family history and gives percentages relative to the average breast cancer risk of a 60year-old woman. “High-risk” according to the Gail model would be a 1.67 percent or higher. Women at higher risk may want to talk to their doctor about medications they could take to help lower their odds.

WHAT YOU CAN DO Some factors can be helped, such as weight management, alcohol intake and limiting the time spent on hormone replacement medication used


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to help women through menopause to five years. The Susan G. Komen Foundation also lists factors that women mistakenly believe cause breast cancer such as abortions, pesticides, deodorants and, believe it or not, underwires.

WARNING SIGNS The best prevention is to know what normal feels like for your chest, so you can spot warning signs of trouble such as lumps, pains, change in breast shape and nipple discharge. Both Ms. Thatcher and Ms. James advise women get yearly mammograms after age 40. Women in Buchanan County have some of the lowest screening rates in the Kansas City coverage area: Only 61.8 percent of women receive their yearly exams, compared to the area’s average 62 percent.

MEN AT RISK Men, too, have a slight risk for breast cancer. Whereas the incidence for women is almost 100 times higher than men (123 per 100,000 versus 1.3 in 100,000), men especially over age 65 can develop cancer. As with women, men should watch for lumps and discharge, as those might be signs of a serious breast problem. Jennifer Gordon can be reached at

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Breast Cancer Awareness publication