Monday, September 21, 2020

Making Strides Against Cancer One Little Step at a Time

 

 

By Maureen Chodaba

I keep a pair of antique little girl shoes on a shelf inside my home. In the 1930’s, they were actually tap shoes that belonged to a little girl who danced her way through life, making strides each and every day. That little girl was my mother. I keep her shoes on display to remind me that we all make strides throughout our lives not knowing what the future will bring. We sometimes make the smallest of steps that actually lead to big accomplishments. As a little girl, my mother never dreamed that she would grow up to make strides against breast cancer on behalf of her entire family. She never dreamed that her mother would die of breast cancer in 1968, or that she, herself, would be diagnosed with breast cancer not once, but twice in her lifetime. And she never dreamed that she would see her only daughter (that being me) faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer.

She also never dreamed that she would lose a lifelong friend to ovarian cancer in 1991. September is recognized as Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. In the 1990’s, ovarian cancer was difficult to diagnose in the early stages which led to a high recurrence and metastasis of the disease in many individuals. Research, much of what has been funded by the American Cancer Society, has changed that. With new chemotherapies and improvements in early detection, the ovarian cancer survival rate is up 50% from 1975. That is an accomplishment. That is a celebration of friendship, love, and life!

October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness month. Once again, because of research that has been funded by the American Cancer Society, breast cancer survival rates are ever increasing. When my grandmother was diagnosed in 1967, early detection was almost impossible. She died less than a year from her diagnosis. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978 and again in 1984. She was a cancer survivor throughout her life. She passed away in 2013, but her cancer never returned.

When I was diagnosed in 1995, I was amazed at the specifics of my breast cancer that

I keep a pair of antique little girl shoes on a shelf inside my home. In the 1930’s, they were actually tap shoes that belonged to a little girl who danced her way through life, making strides each and every day. That little girl was my mother. I keep her shoes on display to remind me that we all make strides throughout our lives not knowing what the future will bring. We sometimes make the smallest of steps that actually lead to big accomplishments. As a little girl, my mother never dreamed that she would grow up to make strides against breast cancer on behalf of her entire family. She never dreamed that her mother would die of breast cancer in 1968, or that she, herself, would be diagnosed with breast cancer not once, but twice in her lifetime. And she never dreamed that she would see her only daughter (that being me) faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer. She also never dreamed that she would lose a lifelong friend to ovarian cancer in 1991. September is recognized as Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. In the 1990’s, ovarian cancer was difficult to diagnose in the early stages which led to a high recurrence and metastasis of the disease in many individuals. Research, much of what has been funded by the American Cancer Society, has changed that. With new chemotherapies and improvements in early detection, the ovarian cancer survival rate is up 50% from 1975. That is an accomplishment. That is a celebration of friendship, love, and life! October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness month. Once again, because of research that has been funded by the American Cancer Society, breast cancer survival rates are ever increasing. When my grandmother was diagnosed in 1967, early detection was almost impossible. She died less than a year from her diagnosis. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978 and again in 1984. She was a cancer survivor throughout her life. She passed away in 2013, but her cancer never returned. When I was diagnosed in 1995, I was amazed at the specifics of my breast cancer that were identified. By that, I mean that I was told that I had 2 different types of breast cancer - Paget’s disease of the nipple and infiltrating ductal carcinoma. I learned that my cancer was estrogen negative and progesterone negative. These specifics, unheard of at the time of the diagnoses of my grandmother and mother, enabled my treatments to be focused and effective. Today, as I celebrate my 20 year survivor status, the specifics have become even more fine-tuned as we now know about HER 2 protein which can indicate the degree of aggressiveness of the tumor, along with the detection of BRCA 1 and 2 genetic mutations. Research that has given us information about the BRCA 1 and 2 mutations has benefited the early detection and treatment of not just breast cancer, but ovarian cancer as well. The research has led to knowledge. And that knowledge is saving lives! That knowledge is being extended to other types of cancer, too. A long-time friend of mine was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma of the spine in 2010. He is now receiving renewed hope, because of a chemotherapy drug that was originally used to treat breast cancer. So you can see, when we make strides, even if they are just baby steps against one type of cancer, we actually make huge strides for everyone! Please help by joining us on October 17 at Cambier Park in Naples at 8:30 AM for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, a non-competitive community walk where we can make our strides together! You can sign up online at www.cancer.org, call 239-261-0337, or register the day of the event at 7:30 AM.I would like to be able to fit my feet in those antique little girl shoes to make my strides that day, but, alas, that appears to be impossible! I will carry those little shoes in my heart with the memories of my mother and my grandmother. They are actually very big shoes to fill! Please watch for another event in the fight against breast cancer at the Port of the Islands Gun Club on October 10 and 11. For more information, please go to www.poigunclub.com.

I keep a pair of antique little girl shoes on a shelf inside my home. In the 1930’s, they were actually tap shoes that belonged to a little girl who danced her way through life, making strides each and every day. That little girl was my mother. I keep her shoes on display to remind me that we all make strides throughout our lives not knowing what the future will bring. We sometimes make the smallest of steps that actually lead to big accomplishments. As a little girl, my mother never dreamed that she would grow up to make strides against breast cancer on behalf of her entire family. She never dreamed that her mother would die of breast cancer in 1968, or that she, herself, would be diagnosed with breast cancer not once, but twice in her lifetime. And she never dreamed that she would see her only daughter (that being me) faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer. She also never dreamed that she would lose a lifelong friend to ovarian cancer in 1991. September is recognized as Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. In the 1990’s, ovarian cancer was difficult to diagnose in the early stages which led to a high recurrence and metastasis of the disease in many individuals. Research, much of what has been funded by the American Cancer Society, has changed that. With new chemotherapies and improvements in early detection, the ovarian cancer survival rate is up 50% from 1975. That is an accomplishment. That is a celebration of friendship, love, and life! October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness month. Once again, because of research that has been funded by the American Cancer Society, breast cancer survival rates are ever increasing. When my grandmother was diagnosed in 1967, early detection was almost impossible. She died less than a year from her diagnosis. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978 and again in 1984. She was a cancer survivor throughout her life. She passed away in 2013, but her cancer never returned. When I was diagnosed in 1995, I was amazed at the specifics of my breast cancer that were identified. By that, I mean that I was told that I had 2 different types of breast cancer – Paget’s disease of the nipple and infiltrating ductal carcinoma. I learned that my cancer was estrogen negative and progesterone negative. These specifics, unheard of at the time of the diagnoses of my grandmother and mother, enabled my treatments to be focused and effective. Today, as I celebrate my 20 year survivor status, the specifics have become even more fine-tuned as we now know about HER 2 protein which can indicate the degree of aggressiveness of the tumor, along with the detection of BRCA 1 and 2 genetic mutations. Research that has given us information about the BRCA 1 and 2 mutations has benefited the early detection and treatment of not just breast cancer, but ovarian cancer as well. The research has led to knowledge. And that knowledge is saving lives! That knowledge is being extended to other types of cancer, too. A long-time friend of mine was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma of the spine in 2010. He is now receiving renewed hope, because of a chemotherapy drug that was originally used to treat breast cancer. So you can see, when we make strides, even if they are just baby steps against one type of cancer, we actually make huge strides for everyone! Please help by joining us on October 17 at Cambier Park in Naples at 8:30 AM for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, a non-competitive community walk where we can make our strides together! You can sign up online at www.cancer.org, call 239-261-0337, or register the day of the event at 7:30 AM.I would like to be able to fit my feet in those antique little girl shoes to make my strides that day, but, alas, that appears to be impossible! I will carry those little shoes in my heart with the memories of my mother and my grandmother. They are actually very big shoes to fill! Please watch for another event in the fight against breast cancer at the Port of the Islands Gun Club on October 10 and 11. For more information, please go to www.poigunclub.com.

were identified. By that, I mean that I was told that I had 2 different types of breast cancer – Paget’s disease of the nipple and infiltrating ductal carcinoma. I learned that my cancer was estrogen negative and progesterone negative. These specifics, unheard of at the time of the diagnoses of my grandmother and mother, enabled my treatments to be focused and effective. Today, as I celebrate my 20 year survivor status, the specifics have become even more fine-tuned as we now know about HER 2 protein which can indicate the degree of aggressiveness of the tumor, along with the detection of BRCA 1 and 2 genetic mutations. Research that has given us information about the BRCA 1 and 2 mutations has benefited the early detection and treatment of not just breast cancer, but ovarian cancer as well. The research has led to knowledge. And that knowledge is saving lives! That knowledge is being extended to other types of cancer, too. A long-time friend of mine was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma of the spine in 2010. He is now receiving renewed hope, because of a chemotherapy drug that was originally used to treat breast cancer. So you can see, when we make strides, even if they are just baby steps against one type of cancer, we actually make huge strides for everyone!

Please help by joining us on October 17 at Cambier Park in Naples at 8:30 AM for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, a non-competitive community walk where we can make our strides together! You can sign up online at www.cancer.org, call 239-261-0337, or register the day of the event at 7:30 AM.

I would like to be able to fit my feet in those antique little girl shoes to make my strides that day, but, alas, that appears to be impossible! I will carry those little shoes in my heart with the memories of my mother and my grandmother. They are actually very big shoes to fill!

Please watch for another event in the fight against breast cancer at the Port of the Islands Gun Club on October 10 and 11. For more information, please go to www.poigunclub.com.

 

 

 

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