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Longmont Times-Call Publication

October 2, 2010

Racing for a Cure Komen founder Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker will speak at closing ceremony tomorrow Special to the Times-Call


Tens of thousands of breast cancer survivors and enthusiastic supporters from across Colorado are dusting off their running shoes and waiting for tomorrow, when the 18th Annual Susan G. Komen Denver Race for the Cure kicks off at Denver’s Pepsi Center. Last year, nearly 55,000 walkers and runners participated, raising $2 million for breast cancer treatment and research, and making Denver’s Race for the Cure one of the largest in the world. The race has three events: a 5K CoEd Run/Walk starting at 7 a.m.; a 5K Co-Ed Walk beginning at 8 a.m.; and the Family 1 Mile Fun Walk at 9 a.m. Individuals or teams can register online to race or volunteer and people can also make an online donation or pledge at Three-quarters of the proceeds help communities in 19 Colorado counties by supporting local breast health education, grants, research and early detection screenings. Participants this year will be treated to closing ceremony remarks by Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Brinker, who founded the organization as a promise to her sister to

Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker gives thumbs up to a crowd. She will be speaking at the closing ceremony tomorrow for Denver’s Race for a Cure. Right: Participants at last year’s race. (Courtesy Komen Denver Metropolitan Affiliate)

end breast cancer forever, has become an inspiration to millions of women around the world. The Komen Denver Metropolitan Affiliate hopes to welcome her to Denver with a record number of race participants. Even if you will be out of town, have a night job or just like sleeping late on Sunday mornings, you can still help. Participants can register as an individual or team to Sleep in for the Cure. They can sleep their way to a cure and still get a special T-shirt. For more information or to register, call 303-744-2088 or visit The Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Komen Denver Metropolitan Affiliate came about when Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen for the Cure and launched the global breast cancer movement. The Denver Metropolitan

Affiliate of Susan G Komen for the Cure is working to better the lives of those facing breast cancer in the local community. They join more than a million breast cancer survivors and activists around the globe as part of the world’s largest and most progressive grassroots network fighting breast cancer. Through events like the Komen Denver Race for the Cure, the Komen Denver Metropolitan Affiliate has invested $25 million in community breast health programs in 19 Colorado counties (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Gilpin, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan, Morgan, Park, Phillips, Sedgwick, Summit, Washington, Weld and Yuma). Up to 75 percent of net proceeds generated by the Affiliate stay in the Denver Metropolitan area. The remaining income goes to the national Susan G. Komen for the Cure Grants Program to fund research.

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Sandra Sundquist has always been one to listen to her body. For years she felt as if something was different; something in her that didn’t belong. But it wasn’t until she fell down a set of stairs in March 1998 and Sandra Sundquist is a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed 12 ended with a spiral fracture years ago. (Paul Litman/Times-Call) in her right leg that she probed the deepest into her Regis magna cum laude with a degree in body. Ten days later she ended up with a business and psychology. pulmonary embolism. “Just because you have cancer, you have By May 1998, Sundquist was diagnosed to keep going; keep yourself motivated. It’s with breast cancer; two different kinds all about changing your priorities.� found in each breast and a lumpectomy that Prior to being diagnosed, Sundquist was a discovered a tumor the size of a large egg. person who did everything for everyone The surgeon removed the tumor and surelse, often putting herself last. But now, she’s rounding tissue, and thankfully he did, as realized how important it is to put herself the tumor was not cancerous but the tissue into the picture. “To make it through this, below it was stage IV cancer. Luckily, none you have to think of yourself and then your of it had moved into her lymph node system. family,� she says. “Now I live for today, and “Cancer is a very interesting disease. They live each day to the fullest.� expect you to be angry and sad. But it was She also realized how important family is. just something you had to deal with,� she Her husband, Dennis, is still the love of her says. life after 46 years of marriage, her three For Sundquist, the battle back was not the daughters, son-in-laws, seven grandchildren easiest, but she now considers herself a and three great-grandchildren make it a thriver and not just a survivor. “I feel that at- strong family support system. “Family gives titude is very much a part of cancer suryou the initiative,� she says. “It’s the blessvival,� she says. “My positive attitude was ings in your life that make your life work.� not surgically removed.� But what Sundquist also learned was Sundquist says the hardest part of the orgreater strength, especially when her deal was the loss of energy, as she continued youngest daughter was diagnosed with to work and get her degree from Regis Unibreast cancer in 2008. And while it was the versity. And while it would have been easier hardest thing she ever faced, she believes her for her to stop her schooling and focus on daughter is stronger and better because of it. her treatment, she knew obtaining the deAfter her daughter returned to work folgree was something she had to do for herlowing treatment, she was let go from her self. company – a decision that prompted her to Chemotherapy treatments did challenge start her own company, – aroSundquist and her education. “It was a chalmatherapy essential oils for animals that clip lenge because the chemicals in the body alto your dog’s collar, harness or leash. ter things. I’d have only a short period of Overall, Sundquist says she has learned to time to write my papers before chemo brain prioritize her life better and the things that set in,� she says, referring to what many can- were important in her life didn’t disappear. cer patients talk about when the brain be“I think the key is a positive attitude,� she comes foggy and unclear. But she kept movsays. “And I believe happiness is a state of mine.� ing forward, and in 2002 graduated from

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Faith kept Friese on track Susan Friese knew the importance of self breast exams and made sure she did hers at least once a month. But after certain health problems got worse she forgot to do them for a couple of months. Once better, the then 56-year-old Army Veteran resumed her self breast exams and to her surprise, found a large lump in her breast. “When I first felt the lump, I felt a spark all the way down my body,” Friese says. “It was a weird feeling.” Friese couldn’t believe she had found a lump, as she had always been so cautious. But she didn’t have time to dwell on that; she needed to focus forward. She remembered recently getting information on mammograms now being offered to veterans at Rose Medical Center in Denver. She called and made an appointment. Once the mammogram and biopsy were done, everything moved fast. Friese had breast cancer and she had to figure out what she was going to do about it. She met her doctor and they quickly decided a double mastectomy was the best option, because the chance of the cancer coming back in the other breast was too large. While the event was a life changing one, Friese never worried about it. She knew her Christian beliefs would get her through this rough time. “I never worried about it; I never got upset. I felt an inner calm,” she says. “I can’t explain it, I just didn’t worry about it. I questioned it, but I didn’t dwell on it.” Friese stayed on track by keeping life the same and taking care of her husband and two grown sons. She was thankful and a little surprised at the kindness she found in complete strangers, and appreciated how thoughtful family and friends were. Friese even got in touch with some old friends from high school she never thought she would see again. Since Friese’s diagnosis in June 2007 and her battle with breast cancer, her prognosis has been good. “So far, I have checked out clear,” she says. – Summer Stair

October 2, 2010

Dowlin thankful for support, lessons learned By Summer Stair Longmont Times-Call

Kelly Dowlin woke up ready to start her day like any other, but something wasn’t the same. A specific dream she had the night before rested heavy on her heart. She had dreamt she had breast cancer; she even knew the spot on her breast where the lump would be, but she didn’t touch it. Instead, she ignored the nagging feeling in her stomach and continued with her day. When her husband arrived home from a business trip the following evening, Dowlin asked him to touch the small, strange, oblong lump in her breast. She immediately called her gynecologist. Once in the office Dowlin’s doctor examined her and when he felt the small lump, he decided as a precaution they should do a mammogram and ultrasound. Within a week, Dowlin had the lump removed and was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer, because it had spread to the lymph nodes. “In a week my life went from perfectly normal to all of a sudden we weren’t just facing breast cancer but chemotherapy and extended radiation,” Dowlin says.

The stay-at-home mom prepared for her battle. She had four children all under the age of 10 who needed her and a husband. She just didn’t know how she was going to do it. “I felt like my life was hijacked,” she says. “I had no control about what was going to happen, except how I was going to handle it.” Dowlin didn’t have to look far for help and support. Her parents moved in in February to help with the kids so Dowlin’s husband could continue to work. Friends made a schedule amongst themselves to help clean the house and provide meals three days a week. Strangers even provided support through cards and prayer. “We have been lifted up and carried when we couldn’t carry ourselves,” Dowlin says. Along with the support, Dowlin and her family learned a lot about themselves. Dowlin learned she had more strength than she ever thought she had before. “I was not going to feel sorry for myself and ask why it happened...because it didn’t matter,” she says. “It was more about how I was going to handle it.” And her children learned lessons they probably would not have. “They have learned things I could have never taught them,” Dowl-

Breast cancer survivor Kelly Dowlin. (Paul Litman/ Times-Call)

in says. “And to be honest, things I didn’t want them to know.” From the support offered from family and friends and even complete strangers, the lessons learned about giving and selflessness, and to remember the gift of life is what has made Dowlin come out of the experience a stronger and more knowledgeable person. “It really was a phenomenal experience. It’s not what I wanted, but I’ll live better because of it,” she says. “Instead of worrying about dying, I’m now more worried about living.”

Humor helps woman battle through and refusing to give up. She also looked to her kids who were then 3 and 8, to remind herself why she was fighting so hard. “All I had to do was look in their faces Cindy A. Rankin believes it was her sense of humor and that’s all it took – now I know why my mom went and being able to laugh about things that got her through what she did,” Rankin says. “I decided I wasn’t through being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. going to waste a single day living my life and I wasn’t Rankin was 40 years old at the time, just one year older going to let cancer take away any more precious time.” than her mother had been when she had gotten breast But one of the biggest lessons Rankin learned was cancer, which after a 10 year fight would take her that “a person’s heart can be shattered many times and mother from her. still be beating.” While Rankin had her own battle to As a high-risk patient, Rankin was always consistent fight, she had family members fighting their own, as with her self exams. So when she found a firm area in well. Two days before her diagnosis, her brother was diher breast she immediately scheduled a mammogram. Cindy Atherton-Rankin. agnosed with stage III melanoma and passed away last (Courtesy Rankin family) The results came back negative, but eight months later year after a five year battle. And nine months after her another lump showed up in the same breast during a diagnosis, another brother was diagnosed with pancreself exam. atic cancer, and died 20 days later. These two events, as well as the fact This time when Rankin went in for her mammogram and got a negathat she had lost both her parents to cancer often made her stop and retive reading she demanded an ultrasound. She knew something wasn’t member how precious life is and sometimes how hard you have to fight right and after the ultrasound and a biopsy, she was diagnosed with to keep it. breast cancer. “There was something and I just knew,” she says. “My “You have to take care of yourself and inform yourself and true stubbornness may have saved my life for once.” friends and family will understand,” she says. “I discovered my stubEverything moved quickly after the diagnosis. Within two weeks bornness was strong and I refused to give up. If it comes back it will Rankin had her first of many surgeries followed by 16 weeks have one hell of a fight.” chemotherapy and seven weeks of radiation. Despite everything she has gone through, Rankin continues with a While there were tough times, Rankin pulled strength from being strong zest for life and has gained a passion for raising awareness, not able to joke around about what was happening to her, keeping her faith just for breast cancer, but all types of cancer. By Summer Stair

Longmont Times-Call

October 2, 2010

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October 2, 2010

Wigs offer peace of mind during hair loss By Kate Frasure Longmont Times-Call

Planning the perfect pink party By KENDALL SCHOEMANN LONGMONT TIMES-CALL

Pink is the theme this October as women all over come together to celebrate womanhood, support each other and make a difference in the world. Pink parties are emerging as a fun and simple way to honor, support, raise money or just have some good, old-fashioned time with the girls, according to The art of a pink party is its flexibility. The guest list can be 10 or 100, it can be low key or a dance party, and it can mean something different to each guest. The Reason Before planning your pink party, declare your purpose. It could be honoring a victim of breast cancer, supporting a friend who is currently battling it, for women in general or to raise money for an organization. The Guest List Whether you invite your close friends or reach out to your entire social circle, make sure you include the reason of your party with the invitation. The Decor The theme is pretty simple as there is no such thing as too much pink. Start with pink balloons and flowers. Decorate your table with different shades of pink. Consider a hot pink table cloth, light pink plates and white napkins. Have name tags on pink paper and sprinkle the table with pink tea light candles. The Food Pink food can take a little creativity. Drinks can be pink lemonade,

strawberry milk or pink tea. Grapefruit, cherries, watermelon and strawberries are great fruit choices. Salmon or shrimp on rice works for a main course. You could also dye pasta pink by adding cream cheese to the sauce. For dessert, try pink frosted cookies, strawberry ice cream, cake or strawberry shortcake. Entertainment Select your favorite female singers to play in the background. For games, consider a gift exchange or a trivia game of famous breast cancer survivors. You could even have a stylist come to the party and offer manicures and pedicures. A movie night is another way to go – classics such as “Pretty in Pink,” “Grease” (pink ladies) or “Pink Panther.”

A little more than a year ago, Heidi Kuhn had hair. But after finding a lump on the left side of her breast, she began to battle one of the most common cancers in women – breast cancer. Upon recommendation from her doctor, she had both breasts removed and underwent four rounds of chemotherapy. However, her breasts were not all that she lost. Like many other women in the same situation, Kuhn began to lose her hair. According to Shelley Albright, a clinical supervisor for the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center in Longmont, chemotherapy targets and kills rapidly reproducing cancer cells. Hair follicle is also a rapidly reproducing cell, which can be killed during radiation treatment. “The hair follicle grows fast,” Albright says. “Sometimes it grows back during treatment and other times it doesn’t grow back until six weeks after the last dose.” Hair loss is different for everyone. For many women it can be a grieving process, so many turn to scarves or wigs to cope with their loss. Kuhn turned to both after having her hairdresser shave her head. “The wig was kind of hot, but it was cute,” she says. Kuhn says her sister helped pick a wig through the American Cancer Society in Greeley, while many of her friends and family loaned her scarves and made hats for her to wear. Robbie Scott of Finishing Touch Nail Salon in Boulder says every person handles the loss of hair differently. Scott makes consultations for many cancer patients who come to her scared and unknowledgeable about wigs. “This is the easiest part,” she says. “It doesn’t hurt.” Scott encourages women to try on multiple wigs and finds that each client handles the process differently. “There is not an average cancer patient,” she says.

Conversation However you want to include it, a pink party is the perfect place to talk about breast cancer. Whether it’s to celebrate beating cancer, coping or grieving, the environment is open and supportive. The Finale End the night by declaring how much money the party raised, picking someone to throw the next pink party or fundraising ideas for your community.

Heidi Kuhn was diagnosed with breast cancer a little more than a year ago. Until her hair grew back, she did wear a wig that her sister helped pick out. Today, Kuhn’s hair is growing back. (Paul Litman/Times-Call)

October 2, 2010

Longmont Times-Call Publication


Dresses for a Cause Charity offers up wedding dresses to help breast cancer By Kendall Schoemann Longmont Times-Call

For most brides, wedding preparations are a crazy, hectic time filled with little details, anxiety and stress. It is easy to lose track of the important things in life, such as health and happiness. At Brides Against Breast Cancer, sincerity, generosity and support are priorities for wedding dress shopping. Brides Against Breast Cancer is a charity wedding gown tour that travels to approximately 40 cities per year with truckloads of discounted wedding gowns for sale, according to Erin Scharf, public relations manager at Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation. The gowns, sizes two to 28, donated by designers, retailers, manufacturers and individuals are all discounted. The dress proceeds go to improve the lives of stage V breast cancer patients. For Rachel Ryan Oliver, Denver resident, Denver’s September 2009 dress show had an ambiance that made her feel relaxed and welcome. “The first room had vendors for anything you might need and the second room opened up to the dresses,” she says. “They had makeshift dressing rooms set up

Rachel Ryan Oliver purchased her dress at a Denver Brides Against Breast Cancer event for her June 2010 wedding. (Courtesy Rachel Ryan Oliver) Left: Erin Wetzel purchased her dress at a Denver event. She was just a bride shopping for a good deal and loved the idea of it going to an important cause. (Courtesy Erin Wetzel)

with everything you could possibly need to wear underneath a dress and volunteers to help with anything and everything.” Oliver went to the show with friends and tried on eight dresses before trying on a two-piece ivory dress with rose gatherings in the middle. “The second I tried it on I knew I had to have it,” she says. “It was marked down and I found a veil to match.” She had found the antique dress she was looking for, and although she wasn’t officially engaged yet,

she bought it. In addition to a perfect, cheap dress and a fun day with friends, the organization made the day especially important for Oliver. “A coworker I was really close to passed away three years ago. She was the most amazing woman ever, so encouraging, special and sweet,” she says. “I loved that the proceeds of my dress went towards remembering her and helping other women battling cancer.” Oliver was married in June of this year and she hopes to volunteer for BABC this year as a way to help give back. Sarah Oehler, a Longmont native, also found her dress with BABC, when she decided to go at the last minute by herself. “I was overwhelmed at first being by myself,” she says. “But the

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volunteers jumped in and helped me with anything I needed.” Oehler says everyone there was supportive and attentive to other’s needs. “Everyone was so nice and helpful,” she says. “It was such a neat experience sharing stories and talking with everyone.” Oehler first saw her off-theshoulder, sweetheart-neckline dress on another shopper. When the women decided it wasn’t for her, Oehler asked if she could try it on. The women and her mother stayed to watch her model the dress. “When I tried it on, they both started crying, which made me cry,” she says. The day fell into place for Oehler after finding her dress when she won a free wedding planner in a drawing. Over-

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Preventing breast cancer with a healthy diet By Ali Wald Longmont Times-Call

Whether or not a woman has a genetic tendency toward breast cancer, diet can be a factor in determining if the cancer will develop. Giving your body the nutrients it needs will keep it strong, and can help prevent a reoccurrence of breast cancer. Jane Crawford, M.S. LAC of Longmont, says her best nutritional recommendations for women trying to avoid breast cancer, or a recurrence, is to maintain a healthy weight, keep blood sugars in a healthy range, load your plate with the most organic whole foods you can afford, and avoid all processed, refined, overly salted and smoked foods whenever possible. She suggests adding foods that contain soy and Omega-3 fatty acids, and cutting down on red meats and processed foods in order to have a well-balanced, breast cancer fighting diet.

How many servings of fruits and veggies should one really eat? Many studies have confirmed a relationship between the intake of fruits and vegetables and a lower risk of developing cancer. In order to protect from developing breast

cancer, a woman should be eating five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day. “The brassica family of vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, collards and cauliflower) are especially potent cancer fighters,” Crawford says. When eating fruits and vegetables, it’s important to eat as organically as possible. Non-organic foods contain about 10 different pesticide residues per day, some of which are cancer causing. When making a salad, make it as colorful as possible. “Help yourself to a variety of colorful foods,“ Crawford suggests. “For those who eat the largest variety along the color spectrum in a week wins.” Why are omega-3s important to the diet? Because processed foods usually lack the essential fatty acids, it is believed that almost 95 percent of Americans are deficient in Omega-3s. “This lack has serious repercussions on our health,” Crawford says. “Inflammatory compounds may increase your risk of breast cancer by 10 percent, it behooves us to reduce this process.” Omega-3 fatty acids is an anti-inflammatory compound and can help fight against the inflammatory compounds women in-

take, and prevent blood clotting. Omega-3s are prevalent in cold water fish, flax seeds and walnut oils. Usually, it is better to eat the whole food rather than supplement it. However, with so much concern over contamination of our fish supply, Crawford recommends using a high quality supplement of fish oils. Soy – It’s more helpful than harmful Soy was originally thought to be a cancer promoter. Crawford says new research has shown it’s benefits seem to be on the cell signaling level, rather than just the estrogen receptor level. This means it is working more in cells that are communicating with each other. Crawford’s recommendation is to eat the high-protein legume as a fermented food. “Bringing miso, tempeh and tofu to the table a few times a week is of benefit,” Crawford says. “Avoid processed food that contains hidden soy products. Be a label reader.” Eating soy will add protein to the diet and could cut down the amount of times one eats red meat with in the week, which is also helpful against preventing breast cancer. Why cut back red meat? Some research says that red meat can

double the risk of developing breast cancer. For this reason a woman should only eat one serving of red meat a week. Crawford says this is because red meat is high in saturated fat, toxins associated with raising beef, and the pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid. Many people tend to think that pork is the other white meat, but “biochemically, it is more similar to red meat,” Crawford says. One should be particularly cautious about eating charred meat, as it carries an extra risk because of the carcinogenic compounds formed during the high-heat process. Crawford says studies report that the combination of diet and exercise cut the risk of death from breast cancer by half for earlystage breast cancer patients. To avoid breast cancer, don’t be one of the Americans who eat 60 pounds of cake and cookies a year. Studies are showing that only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are genetic, and that being overweight is a common denominator in developing cancer. “Have mercy on your trillions of cells and bathe them well daily,” Crawford says. “Change your terrain.”

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Spring 1997 was a joyous occasion for Theodora Lloyd when she found out she was having a baby. But with the good news also came fear of the unknown when her husband found a lump on her left breast. Her doctor at Longmont Clinic confirmed her pregnancy, but sent her to a specialist for more testing. A mammogram showed a lump the size of a quarter in her breast and a biopsy in July resulted in a cancer diagnosis. Lloyd’s story became one doctors followed closely as she was battling cancer and nurturing an unborn child into the world at the same time. This meant unique circumstances in the treatment to ensure the baby would survive. By September, Lloyd underwent surgery to remove the lump and several lymph nodes. However, cancer treatment had to wait until her baby was born in February 1998. But it was Lloyd’s strength that pushed her through it all. “I wanted to raise my baby; to see her grown up,” she says. “My husband supported me through it and gave me strength.” As a native Indonesian, Lloyd had only been in the United States a year before her daughter was born. “My husband and I meet through writing letters back and forth for two years.” With a new baby to care for, Lloyd began radiation treatments at the Longmont United Hospital Hope Cancer Care Center. In the beginning she walked to treatments, before a volunteer from the center started picking her up and shuttling her to treatments. She

continued to battle the cancer by taking Tamoxifen for the next five years, a drug that has been used for more than 30 years to treat breast cancer in men and women that interferes with the activity of estrogen, a female hormone. By February 2000, a routine checkup and mammogram found another lump in Lloyd’s right breast this time that required surgery to remove it and additional lymph nodes. With another round of radiation, her Tamoxifen treatment was extended through the end of 2005. Lloyd started to feel better, having clear checkups and mammograms throughout the next several years. She went to work, first delivering newspaper for the Longmont Times-Call and later working in the kitchen at Niwot High School. “I continued to have faith through my first year and my second,” she says. By 2007, the radiation nurse found another lump in her right breast the size of a nickel. With two lumpectomy’s and rounds of radiation in her past, the surgeon advised her to get a double mastectomy, followed by another round of chemotherapy. She also underwent genetic testing to find out why the cancer continued to return. Two months after her chemotherapy completed, she had a hysterectomy to prevent the cancer from spreading to her ovaries. “With trust in God and strong faith, I ask God for many years to live to raise my daughter, who is now 12 years old and in the seventh grade,” she says, hoping that her story can help give inspiration, courage and spirit to anyone who is diagnosed with breast cancer.

October 2, 2010

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June Munger has a pretty wacky sense of humor – one she believes helped her get through some tough times when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. After her general physician felt something different in her breast, Munger sought the advice of a local surgeon who diagnosed her with stage II breast cancer. “You’re kind of shocked at first, and until you get all of the information and visit all of the doctors, everything is up in the air,” she says. But despite a lot of information and uncertain outcomes, her humor helped her through it. She always had something funny to talk about when she saw her doctors and nurses, which helped lighten the mood and put a smile on everyone’s face. With a young surgeon who was very curious and caring, Munger felt she needed to break the ice. So before she went in to have her second lumpectomy in her right breast, she put a fake tattoo over the surgery site, which caused a pretty good stir among the medical personnel in the operating room. Even the doctor was up in arms, until he realized Munger had pulled a fast one on him. After two lumpectomys, Munger started chemotherapy the week before Christmas. “The most frightening moment for me was seeing my first chemo bag,” she says. “It looked like nuclear Kool-Aid.” From that point on she decided to look at it in a new light, and blessed her chemo as a friend that would fight the cancer for her. Along with the medications that helped her fight the cancer, Munger complimented those with meditation, herbal supplements, homeotherapy, aura readings and other alternative practices. She also researched cancer, reading everything in sight that would help her understand more about her disease. One book in particular that helped her understand was “Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book.” A doctor at the UCLA Medical Center, Love’s book has been considered by many to be the Bible of breast-care books since it appeared in 1990. Only five years after that, Love updated the book in a second edition with new biopsy and screening methods, implants, the pros and cons of hormone therapy, new discoveries in breastcancer treatment and many other topics. “The ‘Breast Book’ became my reference – a way to learn more about my own experience,” she says. Through everything she did, whether it was alternative practices, reading or even folding origami cranes as a part of her medi-

Breast cancer survivor June Munger. (Paul Litman/Times-Call)

tation, Munger learned more about the cancer and how it was affecting her body. By May 1999, Munger started radiation. And only a few months after its completion, her husband, Marcus, was diagnosed with colon cancer. While it was a different treatment than she had gone through, it was her strength and knowledge that helped the two of them get through it together. Marcus started chemo treatments almost a year to the date after his wife. The Mungers celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary this year, and can now only look back on what was and the strength that they developed going through the process. “I got to the point where I would look into the mirror and just stare at myself until I could smile. It was a way to acknowledge that it was me – a time to search and reconnect with my soul,” she says, adding that her reflection was more than seeing a physical body return the smile. It was a reminder that she was still herself after all she had gone through. “I learned I could deal with the worst,” she says. “I had handled that and the rest was easy by comparison.” On her fifth anniversary of being in remission, Munger celebrated with her girlfriends by having a pink princess tiara party. Sparkles and jewels radiated around the room as cheers were toasted and hugs were exchanged. Munger shared smiles, intermingled with a joke or two to celebrate the moment.

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Early detection of breast cancer is the single-most effective way to beat the disease. That is why it is essential for women to conduct their own breast exams to discover any potential anomalies early on. While doctors stress the importance of self-examination, many women still show up for routine wellness visits admitting they don’t do examinations because they simply don’t know how. Perhaps because the practice was given the formal name “breast self-exam.” Today, however, doctors tell women to have “breast self-awareness.” That means women don’t have to follow a set protocol regarding checking for breast changes, and simply being aware of how the breasts look and feel is key. Why the change in the formalities? Doctors have determined that most women notice a lump in their breasts while doing routine activities, such as bathing or dressing. They also figured out that a formal method of examining the breasts was not necessary. Lumps can be found simply by touching the breasts in any pattern, as long as the entire breast is checked. To demystify the process even further, follow these guidelines. • Breasts are best checked for changes directly after a menstrual period. At this time the breast tissue will be softer and less tender due to diminishing hormone levels. • Look at the breasts every day and notice their ap-

pearance and shape. Recognizing subtle differences can help alert a doctor if something is amiss. Be conscious of these changes: • changes in breast size, shape, skin texture or color • dimpling or puckering of the breast • discharge from the nipples • scaliness of the skin • nipple pulling to one side • lump or mass in the breast • enlarged lymph node under the arm Any changes or questions about breast condition should be promptly brought up with a doctor. • Women should know their risk for breast cancer. While there isn’t a definitive genetic correlation, the high rate of breast cancer in one family may mean a particular woman is more at risk. • Get routine screenings at a doctor’s office. Women over the age of 40 should get a mammogram every year.

A person who is experiencing breast cancer has many choices to make. If a mastectomy will be part of the treatment, one of the decisions may be whether or not to have reconstructive surgery. Individuals who will have a partial or complete breast removal are likely candidates for breast reconstruction. Because this procedure is a reconstruction procedure, most health insurance plans will cover the expenses associated with the surgery. Breast reconstruction is done by a qualified plastic surgeon. He or she will talk over the different options available with the surgery. Thanks to advancements in modern medicine and more information known about breast cancer, most cases of reconstruction are able to rebuild the breasts so they are about the same size and shape as before cancer treatment. There are several reasons to undergo a reconstruction, not the least of which is self-esteem. Rebuilding the breast enables a woman to feel more like herself before cancer struck. Only surgery can help a woman permanently regain breast shape. Breast reconstruction can also help bras and other clothing fit better after a mastectomy. It also eliminates the reliance on mastectomy bras and external prosthetics. For those who have chosen breast reconstruction, the next choice is whether to have it as an immediate surgery or delayed. Immediate means that it will be done directly after the actual mastectomy. This reduces the number of surgeries. Delayed reconstruction will occur at a later date after the mastectomy.

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Breast cancer comes in many stages. The rate of survival improves the earlier the cancer is detected. Stage 0: Cancerous cells have not spread outside of the ducts or lobules into surrounding breast tissue. This stage is classified in two types, ductual carcinoma in situ and lobular carcinoma in situ. This is an early cancer, which, if caught promptly, can be successfully treated.

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Stage I: The cancer is no larger than 2 centimeters and has not spread beyond the breast to lymph nodes. Stage IIA: The tumor can be larger than 2 centimeters but no larger than 5. Or, the cancer is not larger than 2 centimeters, but has spread to up to three auxiliary underarm lymph nodes. Stage IIB: The tumor has grown between 2 and 5 centimeters and has spread to up to three auxiliary underarm lymph nodes. Or, the cancer is larger than 5 centimeters but has not spread. Stage IIIA: The tumor is between 2 and 5 centimeters in size and has spread to at least 9 auxiliary underarm lymph nodes. Stage IIIB: The tumor has spread beyond the breast to tissues nearby, such as the skin, chest wall, ribs, muscles or lymph nodes in the chest wall. Stage IV: The cancer has spread to other organs or tissues. In terms of 5-year survival rate, individuals with Stage 0 can expect 100 percent recovery. Individuals with Stage IV, however, have a 16 percent survival rate.

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October 2, 2010

Changing The Caring Experience...

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Digital Mammography is one of the most recent advances in x-ray mammography. The Women’s Imaging Center is an advanced imaging center specializing in breast care and osteoporosis detection. If you have any hesitation in completing your annual mammogram, call us. We want you to feel at ease and we encourage preventive screenings. The results of your mammogram will establish a benchmark for future years. Register online at & Visitors or call 303.651.5145.

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In the Pink  

Breast cancer awareness publication for Longmont, Colorado