The Crescent River Port Pilots' Foundation is honored to be the Presenting Sponsor for the 1st annual St. Tammany Parish â€œYou Night -- Breast Cancer Survivor Fashion Show". We commend each of the survivor models on their courage to walk the stage, persevere and live full lives. Crescent River Port Pilots serve you on Louisiana waterways that are rated as one of the most difficult and treacherous routes in North America. Crescent Pilots transport nearly 560 million tons of cargo on the Mississippi River each year. This transportation is vital to Louisianaâ€™s economy. Pilotage plays an intricate role in the maritime economy generating over 380,000 jobs and $37 billion in national economic output. The five ports on the Mississippi River handle more tonnage than any other port in the world. More the 17,000 vessel movements travel New Orleans waterways annually. Centuries ago, rogue pilots monitored the mighty Mississippi River in hopes of catching the first sight of an incoming ship. Competition was fierce and dangerous, and obstacles were everywhere in this aggressive environment. In a move to put safety as a priority, the government turned to regulating and licensing of pilots in 1908 to insure the safety of the community and the safety of the river boat pilots. With most ships coming in from foreign lands, language barriers were difficult and are still a challenge today. Safety remains critical as pilots climb 30' swaying rope ladders on moving ships, day or night, rain or shine. Crescent River Port Pilots proudly report a 99.98% safety rating and consider it a privilege to be a integral part of the economy of our state. On behalf of the Crescent River Port Pilots and our family members, congratulations to all of the models who are walking the runway tonight and inspiring us through their journeys. Sincerely, The Crescent River Port Pilotsâ€™ Foundation
Your presence here tonight, and ongoing support makes a meaningful difference in the fight against cancer. This exciting event helps provide vital cancer services to patients, their families and communities, close to home. Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital provides the full spectrum of cancer care, from prevention and early detection to diagnosis, treatment, recovery and survivorship. The Cancer Center offers a variety of patient support services including transportation assistance, free cancer screenings, nutritional supplements, access to clinical trials, and many other programs which could not be possible without the support of events such as You Night and to all of you! Each day, we are honored to work with community partners to passionately support the local fight against cancer. Through this event, we are able to touch the lives of many of our neighbors and families affected by this terrible disease and work together to eradicate cancer in our community. We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to the sponsors of this event, the You Night committee and most importantly the models â€“ without which You Night would not be possible. Thank you again for your generosity and support of this event and the opportunity to make a difference in our community. Every gift truly makes a difference.
Chryl Corizzo Department Head, Cancer Services
On behalf of the You Night Steering Committee, we would like to extend our sincere appreciation to each and every one of you who helped make this event possible. The love you have shown to the participating models has humbled us, and we know you have made them feel like rock stars! We give thanks to the salons, boutiques, and corporate sponsors who donated their time, talent, products, services and monetary contributions. Thank you also to all the friends and family members who came tonight to support these brave models as they share their personal journeys, and celebrate their victory over cancer. The time we have spent with the models preparing for this event has been very special, and has indeed united us all. Each model will be forever endeared in our hearts. Hereâ€™s to an amazing inaugural event! Congratulations You Night Class of 2013! With Love -- The You Night Steering Committee Lisa McKenzie, Ooh La Bra, Event Co-Producer Celeste Hart, Creating You, Event Co-Producer Susan Bopp, Lorna Kotara and Nancy Ruiz
Dorothy McHaney The Tapestry of My Life: Iâ€™m looking at the back of the tapestry of my life. Oh, what is that ugly threat? It looks so invasive, so intrusive. It seems to weave in and out, appearing and disappearing. Never being a part of the other threads. No, the back of a tapestry is not expected to be beautiful. The beauty is when the tapestry is turned over. But this thread is the worst of the worst. It seems to push and shove the other threads. It has no color, and then it is all colors. It is like the most undesirable bird, the Starling. A Starling is a nest robber. The Starling is just a plan black bird, until the sun light catches all its beautiful iridescent colors. Then Iâ€™m seeing this threat that seems to have taken on a personality of a Starling, working its way into the tapestry of my life. The moment comes to turn my tapestry over. Oh, it is so beautiful. But, what is that threat, which is like at violin that is orchestrating the unity and gives the tapestry a musical rhythm. It seems all is in unity and harmony. This one threat that darts in and out and makes all other threads shine as never before. That threat has many colors and it brings out the colors of the other threats. I look closer, that thread is cancer. Cancer, which I had thought was taking so much from me, had brought riches and beauty. The C word cancer, I will never fear again!
Tammy Radecker I was diagnosed with Stage 1, “Triple Positive” breast cancer in June 2012 after a routine, yearly mammogram. This came as a complete shock, as no one in my family has ever had breast cancer. After weighing all options, I chose a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. I am ever grateful to my surgeons – Dr. LaGarde and Dr. Boudreaux, and their staff. My chemo treatments (medically referred to as TCH) began in November 2012 under the care of my awesome Oncologist, Dr. Carinder, and the ever-wonderful staff at MBPCC. I am anxiously awaiting my last treatment, which should occur very shortly! As an Office Manager, I was determined to work thru my chemo, which proved to be a real challenge. However, thanks to the support of my “working family” and boss (a melanoma survivor), I did it! Being a mom of 3 young adults and a very independent person, it was extremely difficult, at first, for me to “allow” others to help care for me. But this experience has showed me that it’s okay and necessary to need others. It also proved very well for my caregivers, who felt so strongly about be able to do something to help, as they otherwise, truly do feel helpless. Shortly after my diagnosis, my 20-year-old daughter called and asked me to write 4 words on a piece of paper: Believe…Faith……Hope…..Love. She said she needed it for a college project. I complied, not knowing what she was up to. About 2 weeks later, she came to me and said she had a surprise for me. She raised her shirt and much to my surprise there was a rather large pink ribbon tattoo running down the length of her torso. Through the center was my handwritten word “Faith”. I was taken aback! The first thing I said was “Wow! That’s REALLY big!” The second thing I said was “I don’t know whether to kill you for getting a tattoo or love you even more”!!! What a tribute! I surrounded myself with positive people: my parents, my children, my siblings, my extended family, my friends, my co-workers, and those who contacted me after many years of losing touch. There was ALWAYS a shoulder to cry on or a laugh to cheer me up! If this journey has revealed anything to me, it has shown me that I have NEVER, EVER FELT SO LOVED!
Debra Rehage Current Age: 55, Diagnosed at age 51 The Eve of Christmas Eve 2009 my 20-year marriage ended. This was not my decision and it was not in my control. 2010 was a tough year and the one-year that I had ever missed my mammogram. February 2011 my mammogram showed a mass and further testing was conclusive that I had breast cancer. Again, not in my control. Stage II, Triple Negative with one lymph node. Options, I couldn’t say mastectomy without crying, so I had Chemotherapy first, which shrunk the tumor, and was able to have a lumpectomy followed with 33 radiation treatments. What I did have control of was my attitude and how I would handle this. I had such faith in my doctors at STPH and Mary Bird Perkins that I knew I could get through this. So many would tell me how I was such an Inspiration and they admired me so much. The true fact was that the support, compassion and love of my family, friends and coworkers gave me the courage and strength to know that I would get through this. I missed little work, didn’t lose my hair and was hardly sick. I had finished treatment that November. 2012 was to be routine follow-ups. My 2nd mammogram showed cancer recurrence. Same breast, same diagnosis. This time bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. I was slammed with chemo. Lost my hair, very sick, and out of work for months. My son and daughter- in-law, Bobby and Christy, would often fill my refrigerator and panty, My daughter and son-in- law, Selena and Trey, designed and sold Breast Cancer T-shirts, had a couple of schools involved to raise money. Family, friends and coworkers sent money, gift cards and food. Friends would show up on lawnmowers and do yard work. As bad as I felt, I had so much to be thankful for. How could I not smile? Strangers would strike up a conversation with me about my cancer because they had or knew someone who did also. I always thanked them for sharing their story. It was inspirational for me to hear so many success stories. It gave me such hope for the future. I can’t say enough well about STPH and the Mary Bird Perkins team. Always greeted with a smiling face and the Infusion Center suite was upbeat and caring as if I was their only patient.My 8yr. old grandson, Konner, was over recently and asked if I remembered doing something with him. I replied no I didn’t remember. He looked at me and said, “Grandma, you really do have to get rid of that Chemo Brain,” I said, yes baby I sure do. I am so blessed. I am getting better and stronger and staying positive.
Ann Blossman Current Age: 55, Diagnosed at age 50 My daughter, Katie Williams, was with me when I was given the bad news. She lovingly took over all aspects of getting me well. She literally held my hand and was at my side thru it all. She is the reason I'm here today!
Karen Rewerts Current age: 49, Diagnosed at age 42 I was initiated into the Bald and the Breastless Club in 2006, a pretty big club that none of us join willingly. I was diagnosed on May 10, 42 years old and in the best physical shape of my life. I had a double mastectomy at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center followed by chemotherapy and reconstruction. There are so many moments during this experience that are seared in my memory: compassionate volunteers handing out chocolate; sleepless hours praying with my husband; aggravating surgical drains; a chemo nurse named Mercy; my heart-wrenching cries as a total stranger shaved my head and a wig named Jessica (yes, wigs have names;) my 7-year-old reassuring my 9-year-old that "all those ladies in pink at the Race for the Cure" were survivors; my husband channel-surfing during chemo, calling it "Chemo and a Movie;" a devastating infection and surgery that felt like a second mastectomy; and my ongoing struggle to feel good about my body. These and so many more experiences have brought me to a place of absolute humility, gratitude and a peace about God's faithfulness and constant presence in my life. I often refer to the "pre-breast cancer me" and how different she is from the "postbreast cancer me." All things considered, I like the "post-breast cancer me" much more. â€œI want to express my love and appreciation to my family, especially my husband, Carl, and my children, Glendon and Lydia. Carl, youâ€™re my mirror staring back at me.â€?
Myia Dwyer Current age 55, Diagnosed at age 46 In 2002, when I was 44, I went to the doctors alone to receive my report on a second biopsy of my breast. I wasn’t expecting to hear that I had cancer only in one breast, but it was stage 0, which means it, was confined in one area of my breast and had not spread. I had a lumpectomy to remove all of the cancer and followed up with 25 treatments of radiation. I was being monitored closely every 6 months for two years since the lumpectomy. In 2004, during my last 6-month check up, I was told my mammogram result were clear of cancer and I didn’t have to come back but once a year instead of every 6 months. What a relief it was to hear such wonderful, positive, news! Well, in the same doctor visit, was a turn for the worst. When I was at the elevator leaving the doctor’s office, the nurse caught me and said, “The doctor needs to see you again”. The pathologist explained to me that when he looked closer at the X-rays, he discovered that the cancer came back in the exact same area. I was furious! I argued with him and asked him, “How could I have cancer again when I had radiation treatments?” I elected to have a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery because I was afraid that in another two years, it would come back to haunt me again. I learned a great deal from all of this emotional roller coaster. I won’t forget one nurse told me that, “the knowledge of breast cancer is so powerful.” The more I read about cancer, I began to understand how it can spread and how it can also be controlled. I began to diversify my exercises, try to manage stress and eat differently by incorporating more fruits and raw vegetables. I also learned that prayers are powerful and they really work. I don’t know what I would have done without my friends and family who were very supportive throughout my two-year battle. I believed them when they would tell me that I was in their prayers because I felt the strength to get through the stressful times. I am grateful to have my mother and sister in the audience tonight to share this special event with me.
Amy Even Current age 43, Diagnosed at age 41 I was diagnosed, at the age of 41, with stage 1 breast cancer in my left breast- this was May 3, 2012- the day my world changed forever. On June 12th I received a double mastectomy and reconstruction with Dr Lagarde and Dr Sullivan. Fortunately, my lymph nodes tested negative however I learned after my surgeries that I had a higher risk of reoccurrence - and therefore needed chemotherapy. I had connected with others going through the same thing-- and was given great advice in how to deal with the process of treatment (drink lots of water and rest and do yoga/meditate/ eat right and of course, think positive- which can be hard at times)- I was extremely fortunate to have a wide support network of family, friends and neighbors that cooked, cleaned, and helped with the kids during the 3 months I recovered from surgery and then again as I underwent chemo. Through this- God sent small reminders that he was looking out for me by sending tiny miracles- miracles that I otherwise wouldn't have had the chance to experience- like receiving surprise visits from special friends and neighborsheartfelt notes from relatives I hadn't talked to in years - reconnecting with college Sorority sistersEven though this cancer was a terrible thing- through it all I was blessed. My husband, especially, stood by my side through it all- and was my most faithful caregiver- shaving his head to match mine when I lost my hair- making sure we watched funny movies to take my mind off of how terrible I felt through treatment. One of my sisters even drove from West Bank every week to attend meditation with me and the other would come stay and help at the house. In fact both of my sisters each attended a chemo treatment with me- I had 4 treatments- and always with a buddy. My son and daughter wrote me uplifting notes - my daughter even tracked my progress with an "Amy Olympic" chart- as my chemo coincided with the summer Olympics 2012- and presented me with medals and certificates after each treatment. She even wrote me a note telling me that - we-, as a family would get through this together. A humorous moment during my treatment-- I was eager to take advantage of the yoga and meditation classes at St. Tammany Perish Hospital, so I arrived one morning ready to do so- and by mistake ended up in a tai chi class posing like a bear! I welcomed moments like those-, as they would refresh my spirit. Today, I am back at work- feeling good- continuing to heal - and most thankful for every single day I'm given- hoping that God's plan is to grant me many more.
Therese Allison One day in July of 2012, I found a lump under my arm. All of my doctors were positive that it was nothing but encouraged me to get it checked out to be on the safe side. Because of the persistence of Dr. Stefanie Schultis and the thoroughness of Dr. Lagarde's office, it was discovered to be a positive lymph node. I was told that the best case scenario would be breast cancer because anything else would mean the cancer had travelled from another area of my body through the lymph nodes; possibly spreading to even more areas. While waiting for test results, a friend commented, "it's so strange to be praying you have breast cancer!" The wait was nightmarish and seemed to go on forever until I finally learned that it was, indeed, breast cancer --Triple positive breast cancer. I was premenopausal with no family history of breast cancer, a runner with very healthy eating habits (my children love to complain there is nothing to eat when the fridge is clearly filled with lots of fruits and veggies), and had just been told that I had cancer. I was shocked. Cancer was that disease that "other" people got: people who didn't care about their unhealthy lifestyles --Smokers, sedentary people, and sunbathers. Never in my life had I ever done anything harder than telling my children and mother of the diagnoses. It was especially hard to tell my mother because she lost my father to cancer five months earlier. After getting past that, the treatment (chemo, radiation and double mastectomy) was almost easy! Almost. I am happy to report that the cancer responded remarkably well to chemo and a new scan in July came back clear. It helps that I have been blessed with an unbelievably supportive husband who, when speaking of this journey, would always use the word "we" never "you". He made sure I knew that I was not alone and that this was "our" journey together. I am so much stronger as a Christian and am looking forward to seeing how God will use this in my life. Though I would not want to do it again, I covet the growth so much that I would not change anything that has brought me to this point.
March Kingsdorf Current age: 60, Diagnosed at age 57 Iâ€™m March Kingsdorf...and I had breast cancer. Big emphasis on HAD. When I was diagnosed with invasive lobular cancer, I was stunned at first, then frustrated but never angry. Hey, it happens to the best of us. And it could have been much worse. I just decided that chemo & radiation were just my next chapter. When it was "pony tail day" - was told that was when you knew your hair was being blown off your head...remember when you were a young girl & your momma put your pony in too tight...and when you took it down, the crown of your head was tender. Well, that's ponytail day. So I knew it was time for a shave. So I went to my beauty salon - Elements - and we first cut my hair in a Mohawk, we gave the kids a choice: I was either Alfalfa or SNL's Ed Grimley Once we shaved the Mohawk off, give the kids another option: Kojak, Yul Brenner or Sinead O'Connor... If you can't laugh at yourself, who will? I LOVED the chemo beanies that were produced by these local sisters...I still wear them when my hair is a mess. Chemo was a breeze (okay not a breeze but maybe a light wind)...I decided that it wouldn't stop me from doing anything & it didn't. Played tennis & did my regular thing during it all. And radiation - first time I went in, I took off all my clothes & put on my robe...after the radiation, they told me that I didn't have to totally disrobe...who knows why I thought I did?? But this entire chapter of my life (and my life is chock full of chapters) made me a better person. More compassionate, more forgiving & definitely more 'seize the moment'. Not saying that I think everyone should have breast cancer. Heavens no. But it worked for me!
Lori Chopin Current age 52, Diagnosed at age 39 In October 2000, I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. What a shock-- I was only 39 years old and no one in my family had ever been diagnosed with breast cancer. I am a very private person and at first didn’t share my diagnosis with many outside of my own family and a few of my closest coworkers. My first feeling was embarrassment and that didn’t subside easily. After an unsuccessful attempt to draw fluid from the mass, I was asked how I wanted to treat the cancer-- I knew I didn’t want to wait. I left my OB/GYN office and went straight to the surgeon’s office--that was on a Monday. Friday of the same week, which happened to be Friday the 13th of October, I had a lumpectomy. Results were node negative, ER/PR positive, after that came the hard part. I had to make decisions regarding further treatment options. After much consideration, research and talking with my oncologist and the St. Tammany Parish Hospital cancer program director I decided to treat with chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center under the care of Dr. Gregory Henkelmann. All treatment went as expected. I took part in all the educational events St. Tammany Parish Hospital’s cancer program offered, Look Good, Feel Better, How to Save your Life with a Touch of your Fingers. I even borrowed a wig from the Boutique and had it styled. I selected a red-haired wig, thinking I’ll make this fun-- my youngest daughter is a beautiful natural red-head; maybe someone will think we’re sisters! HaHa. During the course of my treatment, I received a book titled, “You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought.” The title stayed engrained in my head throughout the cancer treatment. Following completion of all cancer treatment, I decided MY cancer was gone and would never return. As an employee of STPH, I wanted to give back to the community so I became certified as a breast self-examiner trainer and held classes for friends, church members and at community health fairs. Along with the power of positive thinking, wonderful caregivers, both at home and in the healthcare arena, I remain cancer free 13 years as of this week, Sunday, October 13, 2013. I consider thirteen (13) to be MY LUCKY Number!
Elena Jannsen Current age 64, Diagnosed at age 61 I work full time for LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in the Oyster Lease Survey section as a geographer. I draw plats on a computer. When I elected to get a double mastectomy, my oldest son, a veterinarian, said they had served their purpose when I was breastfeeding but now they were only decorative so it didn't matter. I have a good cosmetic surgeon. I was at my niece's wedding 21 days after chemotherapy and my head was itching like mad but I dared not scratch because my hair would fall out in clumps. As soon as the reception was over I rubbed my head and all my hair fell out but a few Cupie doll wisps. My brother said he had just shaved his poodle for the summer and I had more hair in my pile. My father in law always said God only made so many perfect heads and the rest he covered with hair. Bald can be beautiful and hats with style are a kick. I've always had straight thick dark hair and I wanted red hair when it came back so I could indulge in a temper, but it came back grey and curly instead, so I'm sweet and grandmotherly instead. Oh well!
Angelle Albright Current Age: 46, Diagnosed at age 38 When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was given 34% of surviving 7 years. There was a new drug on the horizon named Herceptin that was my only hope. After I finished taking the drug for 2 years, a movie producer, by happenstance, came to my home to scout it out for a movie they were filming in NOLA. It turned out the movie was about the UCLA Research Doctor who invented Herceptin and has saved millions of lives since it came to market. When I told the producer that I happened to be a survivor who was standing there with him because of that drug, he invited me to read the script and said I could come meet Dr. Slamon and Harry Connick who played him when they returned later in the year to shoot the film in New Orleans. They invited me to come to the set on the final day of shooting. This scene was the last scene in the film and depicted a fantasy scene of the Dr. Slamon who had fought for 15 years to get the drug onto the shelves. He knew how many women could be saved if he could get it approved. He told his research assistant that he could fill the Rose Bowl with women every two years if his drug was approved and indeed worked as he thought it would. Well, he succeeded, and I am here because of his success! The movie ends with Slamon jogging through the Pasadena stadium (Tad Gormley) and women start popping up one at a time until 80,000 roaring fans cheer him on in victory because he saved their lives. They invited me to sit in the stands and be the first women who pops up. It wasn't about being in the movie, because I was only on screen for a millisecond, but what was so special to me, was that I was in that number in real life. I was LIVING PROOF, which is the name of the Lifetime movie! I was lucky enough to be one of the women saved by one man's relentless push to find a cure for cancer. I was in High School when he conceived the idea of the drug, and was having my first child when it was in Phase 3 of the FDA trials, yet his drive and passion to fight all odds to get the drug to women, saved me years later because he never gave up. It's an inspiring story of curing cancer, and my life, but it also speaks volumes for how important one person can be. Each individual has potential to truly make a difference in the world, and that's why it's important that we find a cure to this disease.
Danielle Fournier Current age: 58, Diagnosed at age 55 Itâ€™s funny, but today more than two years after I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I can look back and say without hesitation that this dreaded disease has made me a stronger person; physically mentally and most importantly spiritually. I approached cancer; much in the same way the young upstart contender prepares to take on the seemingly invincible champion. When one engages in what could very well be a life and death challenge, you are faced with many conflicting emotions; fear, apprehension, self pity, disbelief and anger, but in the end I quickly surmised that if I were to have any real chance of truly defeating this deadly opponent, it would require a total commitment from every member of my cancer team; doctors, nurses, family and friends as well as a strong and unending faith in God. Throughout my protracted battle, no matter how many times I experienced a setback or was knocked off my feet by this disease, there was always someone along with a greater power there to not only get me back on my feet, but to assist me in taking a step forward, followed by another step, until those steps turned into miles and the miles ultimately gave me the strength to gain a hard fought split decision victory over this dark, hideous foe. My long-term plans are to now assist others in their battle with cancer. I have no plans to grant cancer a rematch, but if it is Godâ€™s will to once again do battle with cancer, I will do so again, but only this time there will be no decision, but rather a knockout!!!
Melinda Myers Breaux Current age 48, Diagnosed at age 42 For the past 23 years I have worked for the St. Tammany Parish School Board. I started out as a teacher, but quickly realized I wanted to do something more, something different. I returned to school and earned my Masters' Degree in Counseling. It was a good fit for me. While working as a counselor in my school and raising two children, with the help of my ever-supportive husband, I went back to school. I loved being a counselor and saw the importance of going back for my license. One license quickly became two. I kept counseling at my school and was known to the students as, "The lady who helps people." Things were going great for me, and then all of a sudden, things were complicated. At the end of the 2007 school year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Suddenly, the lady who helps people would need some help herself. Fortunately for me I had an amazing medical team and loving support from my husband, family and friends. Without hesitation, but with a lot of prayers, I began what my wonderful surgeon, Dr. Celeste Lagarde, called, "Taking a journey." My journey was difficult and seemed to last forever. It began with a surgery to remove the tumor, then another surgery to get better margins. This was followed with multiple rounds of chemotherapy, and another surgery coupled with the start of hormone therapy. Ending my journey a year later, was a fourth and final surgery followed by a new hormone therapy that would last for four more years. It has been over six years now since my diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, and I happily call myself a survivor. My experience however, keeps me very humble. I know that at any time my role could switch from survivor to fighter. For me, I have chosen not to dwell on the negatives of my experience. I have chosen instead to take my journey with cancer and combine it with my expertise as a counselor. For over a year now I have facilitated a, "Breast Cancer Survivors' Group" for Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center of Covington. Leading this group has been an amazing opportunity for me to help other women who may be fearful or feel vulnerable after a beast cancer diagnosis. Ten years ago I would have never seen myself in this position, but feel so blessed to be where I am now. I strongly believe that everything we go through in life builds character and makes us who we are. Who I am now is a stronger person, able to reach out and help those who share a similar journey.
Laura Graham Current age 32, Diagnosed at age 28 Three days after my annual exam, I found a painful lump in my right breast. I kept hoping and praying that cancer was not supposed to hurt and that I was too young to get it. Our only positive distraction while waiting nervously for my biopsy results was getting to watch the Saints win their first Super Bowl. Then we got the devastating news…it was stage I invasive ductal carcinoma. I was 28. What made things more difficult was my family and I had relocated to Kansas because my husband, Stephen, was midway through a five-year residency program. Our daughter, Olivia, was three and our son, Robert, was 15 months old. I met with a team of doctors from the University of Kansas Medical Center and created a plan—eight rounds of chemotherapy followed by a double mastectomy with reconstruction. I had great support from friends and family, especially my mom who flew up every other weekend to help us out. We talked with the kids often about what was happening—they loved all of the extra attention and special treats. Several of my friends from Louisiana sent cookie bouquets. When I went to the doctor, the kids would get a cookie. When I lost my hair, they got a cookie. When I had surgery—more cookies. My kids were my saving grace during my treatments. They loved me unconditionally, never once looked at me differently, and never cut me any slack. To them, I was still their mom. After my treatments and surgeries were finished, I was very relieved to be cancer-free. However, I could not help but feel that my body had betrayed me. In 2012, we moved back to Louisiana. I was nervous about changing oncologists. Then I met Dr. Saux at Mary Bird Perkins who set up a cancer surveillance plan, which gave me plenty of reassurance. I also joined a local fitness studio, the Bar Method in Covington, and will have been going there for a year in August. For the first time since my surgery, I feel that I have taken back control of my health, my self-image, and my future. My husband and I had always planned on having a larger family. We weren’t sure what effects the chemotherapy would have on my ability to have another baby. After two years of trying, we had essentially given up. To our surprise and excitement, we found out in August that I am pregnant! The baby is due in April, and we are both doing great. I never really knew what my kids thought about this whole cancer thing, until recently. I had just picked Olivia up from school when she asked me about it. “Hey mom, remember when you had that pain, and you went to the doctor, and had the cancer, and then your hair fell out?” I told her I did and asked if she had any questions. She said, “Yes, can we please get some more of those cookies?”
Debbie Edney Current age 60, Diagnosed at age 59 It was the hardest journey of my life but also the most blessed. It increased my faith, showed me who my real friends were and who were the pretenders. When I began, I had my own successful business, which I lost because the side effects of chemotherapy made me too sick to work. I was facing foreclosure on my home when I had a "chance" meeting with friend who had just moved into town. She had heard I was sick from mutual friends. She called the next day and asked what my greatest worry was and I told her about the foreclosure. She had just come into some money from a source she didn't expect, didnâ€™t need, and didn't want. She kindly caught me up with that. I was pulled back from the brink of disaster many times by the help of friends and charitable organizations. It showed this proud and fiercely independent woman how to ask for and accept help. This disease and its cure broke me down and built me back up again into a person who can figure out what I need and how to ask for it. I can accept help wherever I find it. I go to cancer survivors group meetings every month, which has been a wealth of support and understanding. I've learned where my strengths lie...I am resourceful; I have perseverance, compassion, and a deep, deep, sense of gratitude. I'm not glad this happened to me but I can certainly see all the ways it has strengthened me and made me a better person.
March Kingsdorf Current age: 60, Diagnosed at age 57 Iâ€™m March Kingsdorf...and I had breast cancer. Big emphasis on HAD. When I was diagnosed with invasive lobular cancer, I was stunned at first, then frustrated but never angry. Hey, it happens to the best of us. And it could have been much worse. I just decided that chemo & radiation were just my next chapter. When it was "pony tail day" - was told that was when you knew your hair was being blown off your head...remember when you were a young girl & your momma put your pony tail in too darn tight. And when you took it down, the crown of your head was tender. Well, that's ponytail day. So I knew it was time for a shave. So went to my beauty - Elements - and we first cut my hair in a Mohawk...gave the kids a choice: I was either Alfalfa, SNL's Ed Grimley Once we shaved the Mohawk off, give the kids another option: Kojak, Yul Brenner or Sinead O'Connor... If you can't laugh at yourself, who will? I LOVED the chemo beanies that were produced by these local sisters...I still wear them when my hair is a mess. Chemo was a breeze (okay not a breeze but maybe a light wind)...I decided that it wouldn't stop me from doing anything & it didn't. Played tennis & did my regular thing during it all. And radiation - first time I went in, I took off all my clothes & put on my robe...after the radiation, they told me that I didn't have to totally disrobe...who knows why I thought I did?? But this entire chapter of my life (and my life is chock full of chapters) made me a better person. More compassionate, more forgiving & definitely more 'seize the moment'. Not saying that I think everyone should have breast cancer. Heavens no. But it worked for me!
Elaine Roark Current age: 73 Diagnosed at age 46 I am forty-six years old. It has been eighteen months since my last mammogram, but I owe the doctor money and am embarrassed to go in. Except for restless legs and excruciating menstrual cramps I am extremely healthy. My life is too full to spend time in a waiting room, so why go? Maybe it is my attitude that keeps me healthy. “How long has your right nipple been puckered?” the doctor asks. He sticks a large, shiny instrument of torture into my breast to do a biopsy. I feel like I am going to pass out. The next day I receive a phone call. “You have stage two breast cancer. ”For some reason this does not upset me. “Do what you have to do,” I say. “I have to be in Dallas in two weeks.” Maybe I am in denial. But sometimes denial can be a good thing.... until it's not. “Don't tell anyone,” I say to my mom. “Not even Dad.” I check into the hospital in very good spirits. As I am wheeled down the corridor, I wave to everyone as though I am Rose Parade Queen. I may as well make this fun. As well as a complete mastectomy on my right breast, four lymph glands have been removed. My mother's sisters come to visit. “I told you not to tell anyone,” I lash out at my mother, mercilessly releasing years of pent up anger, but as I purge the anger from my body and mind, our relationship becomes healed. I recover quickly. Ten days later, I am back at work full time as a computer trainer. I begin chemotherapy and except for the prescription for marijuana capsules, I luckily never even experience getting nauseous, But the real villain is vanity. Two weeks later, my hair falls out. I look like a balding old woman but refuse to wear a wig. Scarves, large loopy earrings, a corporate America business suit and a realistic looking soft sculpture boob, which is glued to my chest with rubber cement, become my answer. One day, at a luncheon, the glue looses its grip and the boob drops conspicuously into my lap. Whoops. But who ever knew that this was the entry into my passion for sculpting? Ten months later when Julie leaves home for college, empty nest syndrome sets in, and I can no longer look at my concave chest in the mirror Reconstruction becomes the temporary answer until years later the implant bursts. Luckily, there are no health repercussions and I have a second reconstruction. Now twenty-seven years later, at seventy-three years old, I am healthy, can once again go braless and will never have to worry about sagging breasts. Whoever said that Cancer could not have a happy ending?
Current Age: 23, Diagnosed at age 22
The quote that I have claimed and lived by since kindergarten when I learned it is, "I can do all things through Christ Who Strengthens Me" Phil 4:13 I have had to stand on this verse more this year than in the last 23 years of my life combined. The week I graduated from SLU on December 8,2012 I found a lump in my right breast. I received one bad report after another until I had my double mastectomy on March 13, 2013. The first good news came when there were no signs of cancer in all of my sentinel lymph nodes. After many prayers from loved ones, church family, and coworkers (who really fall under the loved ones heading), I was claiming a healing. Then I visited my oncologist and I found out that I would need to go through a full round of chemo because the tumor was such an aggressive tumor type. It has been a rough round of treatments but I am finishing my last chemo treatment on 7/29/13. All of my doctors and surgeons could not possibly be better anywhere in the world but I cannot wait to see them a lot less. I am so excited to get back to work at Children's Choice Learning Center. It is the best job ever and they have the best coworkers and bosses ever. I graduated in Family Studies because my dream is to open my own day care one day. I love babies and miss them sooo much. Unfortunately, this is one of the few jobs that someone cannot continue while have chemotherapy. Last but not least after God, my main support has been my mother and private duty nurse. It helps that she is an RN, too.
Laura Marr Current age: 39 Diagnosed at age 39 We knew from the beginning that God was preparing us for cancer. We started praying every night as a family since Dec of 2011.We also surrounded ourselves with Christian friends and of course our family. When we found out we had cancer we went to Mary bird Perkins. From the minute we walked in the door and saw Candace we felt comfortable! Then we met Dr. Saux. We cannot express how relieved we were that he was our doctor. So down to earth and confident, we knew we were in good hands. He is the best doctor ever. He said I was young and going to have to handle a monster chemo! I don't have breast cancer anymore and I thank Dr.Saux for that. Then we went to the social worker,Jane, who helped tremendously! She was always there to discuss whatever we needed. When my husband lost his job, she stepped up more than you can imagine. She sat with me for 2 hours filling out applications for financial assistance. We couldn't have made it without that help. All the staff from the infusion suite to the director, Chryl are awesome!! We will always be connected to Mary Bird Perkins and can't think of a better place to go! Thank you so much for taking care of me and helping us though this journey. I couldn't have done this without my sweet husband Sean either; he is my rock and love of my life, thanks baby. Love Laura Marr
Robin Brookter Current age 39, Diagnosed at age 37 I’m a 38-year-old mother of two great kids and a wife to an amazing man named Bryant. I am an Occupational Therapist and a Rehab Director at Ponchartrain Health Care Center in Mandeville. And I am a breast cancer survivor! “Oh what a difference a year makes.” I was not the woman who regularly performed self-breast exams, but one night I listened to an internal voice and decided to check my breast. I did and discovered a pea-sized lump on my right breast. I immediately became nervous and concerned and made an appointment at the St. Tammany Breast Center where I received several mammograms, ultrasounds, and a biopsy. And it was on that dreadful day of April, Friday 13th -- cancer…Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Me. The busy mom of 2. Me. The “young” woman with her whole life ahead of her. That news was definitely mind blowing. My first thoughts were “I don’t want to die” and “I don’t want to be that sick mom or that sick wife.” Of course there were tears and so many fears, but ultimately there were some major decisions that needed to be made. With the help of Dr. Carl Ordoyne, my oncology surgeon, and Dr. Brian Strand, my plastic surgeon, I decided to have a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction at St. Tammany Parish Hospital. That led to another surgery called an Axillary Node Dissection to remove the lymph nodes in my right axilla. Two out of 14 lymph nodes were positive. I was in Stage 2. It was then that I visited Dr. Coriander at Mary Byrd Perkins Cancer Center to decide where do we go from here. His response: 6 rounds of chemotherapy and a year of Herceptin. My response: “Doc, I really don’t have time for cancer!!” I went home and cried again. I prayed for comfort. It was then that I decided it was time to take control back of my life. I chose to accept the hand I was dealt and make it work in my world, in my busy crazy life. I refused to let the cancer take another thing from me. I donated 12 inches of my hair to Locks of Love so that some child that is going through cancer has a chance for a good wig through my donation. Then the chemo began July 2012. During my chemotherapy treatments, I continued to go to work every single day. I worked nauseated, bald, but always optimistic. My faith and belief in divine healing left me with the feeling that God would not have brought me through all of this to let me fail. I never asked God “Why me?” because he has blessed me with such a fantastic life I can’t begin to question him now when the first major thing happens to me. I leaned on God and his power of healing to give me strength to get through the hard times and conquer my fear. I also found unconditional love and support from my family and my awesome group of friends. I could always count on them to make me laugh when I was feeling down. I can’t thank them enough for the countless meals they had delivered to my house, and all my chemo-beanies that kept me looking stylish and fashionable while sporting my “new” look. The real troopers during this experience were my husbands and my children who watched me day after day get through the toughest challenge in my entire life. They were my cheering squad encouraging me every day that I was one step closer to being done. They say children are resilient and I th, 2012, that I was given the news that I, Robin Brookter, had breast do believe that mine are. My son would cover me up when I would lie down for a nap after chemo. My daughter swore that ‘her’ massages with those tiny fingers would make me feel better and stronger. I don’t know if I felt stronger but I felt loved. They never cried but I could see it in their eyes that they were scared. And on the day of my last chemo treatment the whole house did the “happy” dance! Throughout this yearlong journey I look back and again say, “Oh what a difference a year makes.” I now have a renewed appreciation of the overlooked simplicities of life, such as, hearing my little girl giggle or feeling wind blow through my new hair. I now hug my family and friends a little bit tighter and a little bit longer. I make sure I tell people I care about that I love them. I try to laugh more and fuss less. I try to eat right and stay healthy. I also try to educate other women like me to “Check your breast!” Get your mammograms! Be proactive about your health! Early detection is the key, along with good treatment. So, if you are just beginning your journey or in the midst of it now just know that there is hope and your dreams for the future are not lost. A friend of mine has a saying that I like, “Make every day a happy day.” We should all strive for that. To enjoy life. Have new experiences.. Make new memories. Today is what we make it and tomorrow is what we hope and pray for.
Carol Bell Current age: 58, Diagnosed at age 55 Within a week of being diagnosed with cancer I started my chemo after a whirlwind round of tests. All of this was very overwhelming to me! I decided after my first round of chemo that I had to get the fear and anxiety under control not just for family but my friends and me. I have always been a tough old independent broad and for my own sanity I needed to remain that person! I wanted to control my life and not cancer! One evening we had dinner with several of our friends and they presented me with a coconut bra. Apparently they were nervous that it might upset me but I thought it was funny! Also several of our guy friends were offering to help me choose my new look after surgery. Such loyal friends! Keeping my sense of humor helped me to overcome the ups and downs of this disease. One day I really had a craving for blueberry pancakes and I don't like making them anyway so I asked my husband to make them. Imagine my surprise to find one lonely blueberry in the pancake! Sadly he didn't improve his cooking skills during that time! During the course of my treatments, I always tried to look my best and give a positive attitude to the other people around me that were also taking treatments. It made me feel good when the nurses sometimes asked me to sit next to someone also receiving treatment that was having a bad time. I didn't have the answers but sometimes I think it helped to just talk to someone who was going through the same thing! I met a lot of nice people during that time! My doctors and nurses were outstanding and I credit them for their positive outlooks and care and compassion shown to their patients! I also think the uplifting dĂŠcor and beautiful gardens at the old Mary Bird Center helped to lighten the atmosphere!
Patti McHugh Current age: 60, Diagnosed at age 59 One of my favorite quotes is by Eleanor Roosevelt: “Women are like teabags. We don’t know our strength until we are in hot water.” In December 2011, I found myself in hot water. After living a healthy lifestyle, I was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of Breast Cancer, HER 2 positive, and Stage 3. Telling my family, especially my mother, was the hardest part of the diagnosis for me. Upon telling some friends, one advised that I keep my diagnosis a secret. I thought THAT will never happen! I was “blessed” with breast cancer for a reason, a reason that I already knew. Because of the way I found the tumor, I KNEW that God was in my corner; I KNEW that there was a purpose for my cancer; I KNEW that the purpose was to spread the word to all women and to the people who love them; to encourage them to not only go for their annual mammogram, but also to promote SELF BREAST EXAMINATIONS. Self Breast Examinations are extremely important. They can make the difference between life and death. If I had been practicing these, I would have detected the cancer sooner. When people ask me, “How can you be so calm?”, “Why are you not afraid?” I just respond, DIVINE INTERVENTION! Heaven lead a DREAM TEAM OF DOCTORS to me. My Dream Team consisted of Doctors Swiger, Knox, Carinder, Lagarde, Henkelmann, and Sullivan. I owe them many thanks and I guess you could say my LIFE. Heaven did not stop with the Doctor Dream Team. They also sent GUARDIAN ANGELS. These Guardian Angels PRAYED for me, CALLED me, sent CARDS & EMAILS, COOKED delicious meals for my family, ORGANIZED fundraisers, brought gifts, delivered meals…the list is endless. You may be wondering who these Guardian Angels ARE. Well, most of them are here tonight. They are my family and my friends and I am very blessed to have them in my life.
Cheryl Delchamps Current age: 66, Diagnosed at age 42
At the age of 42, I had a husband, 2 sons (ages 3 & 9), and a job. My doctor was watching suspicious deposits in my left breast. My first lesson in "Cancerland"--don't just sit back and watch - act. Six months and a mammogram later, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. Chemo, sickness, drugs, and depression followed. While I was undergoing 6 rounds of chemotherapy, I did not take time off of work except for the days of my chemotherapy treatment. My husband worked 60 minutes away from home and I was responsible for the majority of childcare. I was not going to let cancer get in the way of being a mom or an entrepreneur...After my mastectomy I could not find a local business that sold prosthetic bras or other things for women experiencing breast cancer, so I started a my own business selling prostheses, bathing suits, wigs, turbans, and bras. I called my business Second Image. Time passed, life got back to normal, and I was cancer free for 17 years. "Cancer" decided to come back full force in my liver, spine and sternum. I am still fighting to this day. My oncologist calls me a "modern marvel" and tells me that I should not be alive, but here I am. My cancer continues to shrink and I can walk, jump, and sing a silly tune. The final act of my movie will be taking care of my grandchildren and seeing them grow up (no pressure to newlyweds Bryan (son) and Amanda- wink! wink!).
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Official event program for You Night Breast Cancer Survivor Runway Show, held at the Fleur de Lis Center in Mandeville, LA. Co-Produced by...
Published on Oct 17, 2013
Official event program for You Night Breast Cancer Survivor Runway Show, held at the Fleur de Lis Center in Mandeville, LA. Co-Produced by...