Welcome and thank you for joining us at the 12th unveiling of the Sisters’ Journey breast cancer survivors’ calendar. Today we will introduce you to another 12 extraordinary women.
When I look at the past years, the word “evolution” just keeps popping in my head – how the organization has evolved so much over the years… we are featuring younger survivors and more newly diagnosed survivors. I can’t help but think that we may have had something to do with that through our many educational programs advocating for early detection and state of the art treatment.
With the passing of both a very dedicated survivor and a founding board member, it is clear to me that Sisters’ Journey continues to learn so much from those we lose as well as from new people we meet. This year’s two loses touched us deeply and will continue to touch us for many years to come; however, our grief will drive us to advocate even harder and to educate and support our community.
The first loss was that of a young survivor named Nancy Horner. Nancy was the mother of two. She was introduced to us by her aunt, Toni Dunstan (herself a breast cancer survivor), and comes from a family with a history of breast cancer. When Nancy came to us, she was struggling with a recurrence of breast cancer. She came to the meeting with lots of questions and was very hopeful. She was so excited to attend our first Mother/Daughter Brunch and looked forward to attending the second. The reason she makes me think of how we are evolving is that for so long our support group meetings were attended by women who seemingly were in good health and just trying to cope with the aftermath of their treatment journeys. Nancy introduced us to what has become a different type of support: Support for a survivor in the midst of their battle – a different type of nurturing.
The second loss is extremely personal for me – my grandmother, Phyllis W. White. Her loss felt like the end of an era for Sisters’ Journey. Phyllis was the last of the foursome that started the organization. She did not have breast cancer; rather she was a Caregiver – a title she wore very proudly. She lost both her daughter and sister from the disease.
Phyllis, affectionately known as Meme, was the first Board President of Sisters’ Journey after incorporation and the biggest advocate of survivors and early detection that I know. Besides continuing her daughter’s legacy by keeping Sisters’ Journey going and incorporating the organization in 2004, she also volunteered for the American Cancer Society, went to South Bend Indiana to learn about clinical trial opportunities and, along with some dedicated survivors, spoke at Common Grounds High School. She felt that it was important to teach young women about self- advocacy and health awareness. It is because of her commitment, dedication, and perseverance that we are giving four scholarships a year in remembrance of our founding members.
As we evolve and move forward, some faces may change, and there may be some new ideas, but the vision has remained the same. We will continue to use our collective energies and join forces with others to heal women physically and spiritually. Advocating for early detection and good treatment will be our core focus.
And we will continue our journey forward into the next era with our next set of calendar women.
Thank you for continuing this journey with us!
The date was Sunday, December 13, 2009 – my birthday – and I was preparing myself to go out for dinner with my significant other. When I was done showering, I decided to do a quick self-breast exam.
During the summer of 1999, I began to feel an overwhelming need to switch gynecologists as I was heading to the big 40 and felt a female doctor would best serve my needs – you know, menopause.
When I returned from vacation there was a letter waiting from a doctor at Yale New Haven Hospital. The letter stated my mammogram had shown some suspicious areas (calcium sites) in my right breast and that I would need some follow-up.
My journey started on November 14, 2008 when I went to see my doctor and he told me that I have breast cancer and that it had spread to my lower spine. I was shocked and stunned! I could not believe what I was hearing.
Approximately 10 years ago, I was a model, dancer, workout fanatic and in the best shape of my life. During self-examination I found a hard ball underneath my left breast.
The doctor talked to me about removing part of my breast. I then had to think about having half a breast with the chance of this tumor coming back. I chose to have a mastectomy and removed my right breast.
Around the time when my seventh child turned one, I noticed a bruise on my right breast. I did not pay much attention to it because, while playing with the baby one day, he hit his head on my breast.
In September 2009, I went for my annual mammogram. Afterwards, I received a call to be scheduled for a biopsy. The biopsy revealed that I had early stage of non-invasive breast cancer.
I would encourage regular self-breast exams, get GYN exams yearly and take the initiative to get regular mammograms!
My Journey started in June 1990 on my 40th birthday. Doing self-examination, I found a lump on my left breast. While thinking it would go away, it only got bigger.
My journey began on February 18, 2009 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. There are no words I can use to fully express my feelings when I heard those dreadful words!
In June of 2009, I felt a lump in my breast above the chest area. I walk every day as part of my daily exercise routine. When I showered afterward, sometimes the lump was there and other times I felt nothing.