Please take a moment to meet Terrece

My journey with cancer began when my daddy died from cancer soon after I turned five years old. He was a physician and a wonderful man. He saved other people’s lives. He saved my best friend when she had spinal meningitis at the age of two. We’ve been best friends ever since.

Right before I found out I had breast cancer, I had just completed my Master of Arts degree in Creative Arts at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. It was May 2007. My life during that time was so busy. I was a single mom, teaching full time, and going to Carthage two nights a week. The news of cancer made my life come to an abrupt halt.

I was diagnosed with stage II invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer on August 11, 2007. I was alone, sitting in my living room with the phone, waiting. The doctor called around 9:15 a.m. I was devastated with the news. I remember feeling numb and wanting to deny the truth. I started to think of all of the reasons why I probably got cancer—blaming myself. I sobbed and prayed at the same time. I pleaded with God to not let me abandon my children from cancer like my daddy, who I still missed dearly.

Then I decided to use my energy in a positive way and learn about breast cancer. I went online. That’s when I saw a link to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) website. I remembered their commercials and the message “you’ve got a reason to live.” So, I clicked to chat and got Diana Previs, an Oncology Information Specialist.

Diana was SO wonderful. She calmed me down and told me that I should not blame myself for getting cancer. She was my first glimpse of HOPE. She told me about CTCA. While I would have had to wait weeks to have surgery with my current doctor, I was able to get an appointment right away at CTCA.

When I said I wanted to go to CTCA for my breast cancer treatment, Diana scheduled me with Dr. Dennis Citrin. I could not wait to get there because I knew there would be answers.

My mom came with me on August 16, 2007, my first day. When we arrived at CTCA at Midwestern Regional Medical Center, I was scared and anxious. Yet, as we walked into the building, it was like a wave of peace just came over us. I immediately began to feel like my burden was being lifted by the friendly, sincere and compassionate people everywhere I looked.

I went to the second floor for my appointment with Dr. Citrin. The waiting room was full. I sat there and realized that I was in a room filled with other people who had cancer as well, but I still felt alone and anxious. However, I kept hearing other patients around me talking about how wonderful their experiences had been and how they were getting good reports.

I met Dr. Citrin and through his kind, gentle manner, he reassured me. His voice was calm yet authoritative and confident. He explained the type of breast cancer I had—he is a great teacher. He also assured me that there was HOPE. I knew I was in the right place and I trusted him.

That following week I also met with Dr. Edgar Staren, who was just as wonderful, gentle and calming. He thoroughly and simply explained the partial mastectomy and lymph node dissection. He said a pathologist would do an initial biopsy in the operating room to make sure they got all of the cancer—which he did in my case!

Right before chemo began, I brought a self portrait with exaggerated hair to show Dr. Citrin. He was so happy to see me with artwork because he knew it gave me a positive outlet in dealing with my situation. Dr. Robert Bloom also graciously analyzed my artwork. He helped me realize that I had been able to grieve for my daddy through my own grief of losing my hair.

Since the beginning of this cancer journey, artwork has been therapeutic for me. It has helped me express my thoughts and feelings and understand myself. There were moments when I felt like I was in a dark, deep pit and could not climb out. However, kind words and prayers from my doctors, nurses, family, friends, and other cancer patients, helped guide me back into thinking positive, hopeful thoughts.

At CTCA, I have so many doctors who have all cared for me with compassion. They are lovely, kind men and women of all ages and backgrounds. I came to find that they are real people at CTCA, and they really do care about the patients. They understand that everybody is different and they treat you as an individual. Since coming to CTCA, I have not just healed from cancer, but I have healed emotionally and spiritually as well.

I owe my healing to so many people at CTCA —doctors, chemo nurses, radiation staff, physical therapy, naturopaths, pastoral care (who came to see me during every chemo treatment!), food service, Survivorship Support, other patients—I can’t name them all.

My sister was impressed with CTCA too. When she visited over Thanksgiving, she came to my appointment with Dr. Staren. After meeting him and others that day, she wrote a poem about CTCA called “Hope,” which I was inspired to use in my artwork.

I believe that what we go through in our lives shapes our character for the people we become, if we let it. I think it helps us be stronger for whatever will happen in the future. Just as God knows the beginning and end, I trust that His ways are beyond my understanding and to daily let Him direct my life.

Although I would not have chosen cancer, it has been a blessing. Along this cancer journey, my life has been enriched with beautiful people and experiences. It has taken on new meaning and a new direction.

I am so grateful to have come to CTCA. This truly is a special place. I feel like I “get to” come here, not like I “have to” come here. The doctors and other personnel have been so wonderful, helpful and sincerely compassionate, not only on the first day, but throughout my entire journey. CTCA really is a gift to cancer patients and a hospital unlike any other.

I want to encourage everyone who faces cancer to come to the CTCA for their treatment and that there is HOPE along their journey, to never give up, and to hold on to their faith in God.

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Advocacy Alert Mammograms for low-income women

 Greetings from the Komen Charlotte Advocacy Alliance!

When you registered for the Race for the Cure, you checked a box to become an advocate, that is, to take action on important state and federal issues. Thank you.

This is the first time we are coming to you for help, and it’s critical. You can help NC receive additional funding for the state’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP), which provides mammograms and pap tests for low-income, medically underserved women.  To be eligible, their income must be less than 250% of federal poverty level.

House Bill 160 allows individuals eligible to receive state income tax refunds to donate all or a part of their refund to the BCCCP program. The House passed the bill overwhelmingly last year, but it is being held up in the Senate.

Present funding allows only about 8% of women eligible for BCCCP to receive mammograms.  With grants from Komen’s five NC Affiliates to BCCCP providers, the total reaches 15%.  Passage of HB 160 would enable more eligible women to receive what can be life-saving screenings.

Please contact your state senator now to urge passage of HB 160.  Here’s how: Go to the General Assembly‘s website, www.ncleg.net.  Then click on “Who represents me?”  Next, click on “By County” or “By Zip Code” to get the name and email address of your senator. Mecklenburg County has several state senators.  To find yours, visit the county’s board of elections website, www.meckboe.org.  On the left, click “Voter Information,” then click on “View My Districts” and follow instructions for entering your street address.  Click on your address and “Voting District Officials.”  Then go to www.ncleg.net to get the senator’s email address. Email the senator, respectfully requesting that he/she vote yes on HB 160.  Explain that early detection of breast cancer is more cost effective than late-stage cancer treatment. Be sure to thank the senator for consideration of your request.

Please take the time to contact your senators. Eighty-five percent of the women who need these services don’t get them, and we don’t want that number to grow.

Thank you for being a Komen Charlotte advocate.

Sincerely,

(Ms.) Neel Stallings Acting Executive Director Susan G. Komen for the Cure Charlotte Affiliate

 

Go to charlotte.info-komen.org

Online survey for ALL female breast cancer survivors in the United States

Army of Women:

We need women in the United States who have been diagnosed with breast cancer of any stage (including LCIS and DCIS) to take part in an on-line survey developed by researchers who are trying to identify individual characteristics that may put some breast cancer survivors at higher risk of developing uterine cancer. We have recruited for this study in the past but the researchers need more women to complete the survey. The researchers are interested in ALL breast cancer survivors: women diagnosed with uterine cancer, women never diagnosed with uterine cancer, and women with OR without a uterus. Studies have shown that the drug tamoxifen, which is used to treat women with hormone-sensitive breast cancer, can increase a woman’s risk of developing uterine cancer. These researchers want to identify certain personal characteristics that might influence whether or not a woman taking tamoxifen goes on to develop uterine cancer. It is NOT necessary to have taken tamoxifen to complete this survey. Please read on to learn more about what’s involved and who can participate. And please don’t forget to tell any of your friends or family who are breast cancer survivors about this on-line study! What’s the study about? The research team wants to develop a tool that can determine whether a woman with breast cancer is at higher risk of going on to develop uterine cancer. Women will be separated into two groups: 1. those who developed uterine cancer after being diagnosed with breast cancer and 2. those who did not develop uterine cancer after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Comparing the two groups will allow the research team to investigate the specific individual characteristics that are associated with developing uterine cancer after being diagnosed with breast cancer. If you were diagnosed with uterine cancer before you were diagnosed with breast cancer, you can still participate in the survey. What’s involved? If you sign up for the Breast Cancer, Uterine Cancer, and YOU Study, you will be sent a link to an on-line survey. The survey is confidential. This means that you will be asked to provide basic demographic information (such as age and ethnicity), but that you will NOT be asked for any identifying information (such as your name or e-mail address). The survey will ask questions about your smoking and exercise history, breast cancer diagnosis and treatment history, reproductive health and menstrual history, and personal and family medical history, including whether or not you have been diagnosed with uterine cancer. The survey will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. Who is conducting the study? Michael Milam, MD, MPH, at the University of Louisville Brown Cancer Center, in Kentucky Where? Anywhere in the United States – this is an on-line study Who can participate? You can join the Breast Cancer, Uterine Cancer, and YOU Study if you match ALL of these MAIN categories: – You are a woman over the age of 18 – You have been diagnosed with breast cancer of any stage (including LCIS and DCIS) at some point in your life – You have access to the Internet and are willing to complete an on-line survey – You live in the United States If you RSVP for the study and are found to be a match, you will receive a link to the on-line survey.

Yes, Sign Me Up No Thanks Recruit a Friend Grow the Army of Women This email was sent by: Love/Avon Army of Women | 2811 Wilshire Blvd. | Suite 500 | Santa Monica | CA | 90403 info@armyofwomen.org If jeml82@gmail.com should not be subscribed or if you need to change your subscription information for Army of Women, please use this preferences page. Forward to a Friend

Breast Cancer Story- Alyson

Alyson

Hi! My name is Alyson.  I am 41 years old and still fighting for my life.  I was diagnosed April 16, 2005 with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC).  While vacationing at a state park lodge with my husband and two sons, I noticed a rash on my left breast.The next morning the breast was so swollen that it would not fit inside my bra.  I went home, celebrated Easter Sunday with the family and promptly called my family doctor on Monday morning.  12 days later, 18 doctor appointments later, lots of poking, prodding, and many scans and tests, I was diagnosed and had a chemo port surgically implanted into my chest and began chemo.  I was told Inflammatory Breast Cancer is the deadliest, most aggressive form of breast cancer there is, 2% of all Breast cancers.  WHY ME????

Once I received the PET scan results, cancer was nowhere else in my body, I set out on a whole new path.  To fight this cancer, beat it and continue to live here with my family.  I have 2 sons to finish raising and see my grandchildren someday.  I had chemo (Adriamycin Cytoxin and Taxol) from April thru August.  Modified radical left mastectomy on September 1, and began 38 rounds of radiation treatments the end of October.  I am Estrogen Negative and HER2+ which puts me at a very high risk for recurrence.  I am taking weekly infusions (in my chemo port) of Herceptin to try to fight off recurrence.

I was bald for nearly 8 months and will never proclaim to have a bad hair day ever again! LOL  I was so sick that getting out of bed was not even an option on chemo weekends.  But, my pathology report was fantastic and my genetic testing showed no genetic mutation to raise concerns.

I am very positive and have been from the start.  I have talked to my cancer from day one and told it that it was not welcome in my body, and that the chemo and I were killing it.  My family, friends and team of doctors have been an incredible support for me.  I am incredibly blessed to have them all standing beside me every step of the way.  Life is short – and cancer puts a whole new perspective on EVERYTHING! The clouds look totally different every morning and I approach life with a NEW NORMAL – never to be NORMAL again.  Life is a true gift – cherish it!!!

Did you hear that? It….It sounded like PINK BOOTS!

That’s right folks, we’re gearing up for the 2012 Pink Boots Ball on September 15, 2012.  This year’s bash will be like no other year before. The theme is “Ribbons & Pearls“, the choice to wear one, the other or both, is yours!  Be sure to check out our website for how to purchase tickets or if you’re interested in being a sponsor.  NOTE: $150.00 preview sale if purchased before August 17th, 2012. 

Always,

Your Breast Friends.

Helping Children Understand Cancer

Eight-year-old Megan imagined all sorts of horrible things about the place her mother was going for cancer treatments. It was scary enough when her mom first told her that she was sick and needed to go to the hospital to get better. But Megan did not understand why her mom often came home even more sick than when she left. Both of her parents seemed so sad and tired all the time, and she was too afraid to ask what was going on or whether her mom was going to ever get better again.

Nearly 3 million children in the United States live with a parent who is a cancer survivor or is currently undergoing treatment for cancer. According to a recent study published in the journal Cancer, an estimated 14% of cancer patients are parents to a minor child. Nearly one-third of these patients are caring for a child who is younger than 6 years. For many children, dealing with a parent’s cancer evokes fear and anxiety that can have an adverse effect on their emotional development and personal relationships throughout their lives…read more.

It’s All About Giving!

Dear CBF Readers,

Can you believe it’s already the MIDDLE of May?!  And before you know it, it’ll be June!  CBF has a handful of awesome and spectacular events coming down the pipeline too.

On June 9th, we’re teaming up with the EpiCenter during their “It’s All About Giving” event.  From 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., we’ll be at the EpiCenter selling our super schnazzy merchandise and talking to anyone who is interested about Carolina Breast Friends and what we stand for.  Don’t worry you don’t have to buy anything, but if you’re around feel free to stop by and say “Hello” and show your support!  If interested in volunteering during the above time slot, e-mail Angeline at ajwebb05@gmail.com.

As Always,

Your Breast Friends

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