Event Date & Time

Tuesday, October 29, 2019
5:30pm - 8:30pm

Event Location

Henderson Beach Resort and Spa
200 Henderson Resort Way, Destin, FL 32541
Get Directions

About 2019 Stand Up to Breast Cancer Event


The Stand Up to Breast Cancer Event was created to honor local breast cancer survivors and help raise awareness. Nineteen area breast cancer survivors will be honored and recognize during the event on October 29th.


Stand Up to Breast Cancer Event is presented by Northwest Florida Daily News in partnership with Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, Twin Cities Hospital, Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce and Wind Creek Hospitality. Thank you to our supporting sponsors Okaloosa Gas District, The Petermann Agency, Courtney Simpson- State Farm Insurance Agent, Destin Commons, Renew Aesthetics & Anti-Aging Clinic, J&B Medical, McCaskill & Company and Stephen & Joan Carter, Step One Auto, Northwest Florida, Ear Nose & Throat, Henderson Beach Resort & Spa and HarborWalk Village. Your sponsorship allows us to bring this amazing event to our community.




Become a Sponsor
To make this event a great experience for our survivors, we are looking for local businesses who are community-minded and willing to support this effort through sponsorships.


For information about becoming a sponsor please email:
events@nwfdailynews.com




Special Guest

Brenda Ladun

ABC News Anchor
Brenda Ladun anchors the 6:00 and 10:00 News on ABC 33/40. She's worked in Birmingham television for two decades and she's a five time winner of the Alabama Associated Press Awards for Best Investigative Reporter and Best Specialized reporter. Most recently, Brenda won the Associated Press Award for best anchor. Brenda has also won several community awards for her work with the underprivileged. She works with the Grace House Christian Home for Girls, The American Cancer Society, as well as other community organizations.

In February of 2001 and in 2007, Brenda had the fights of her life. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery. She has successfully completed chemotherapy. She has made it a priority to make sure the public has access to cancer information through the Cancer Resource Center on ABC 33/40's website. Brenda is committed to keeping ABC 33/40 viewers aware of developments in the search for a cure with nightly "Cancer Facts."

Sponsorship



What is the attire?

Business Wear or Sunday Best

Will there be a bar?

Open bar from 5:30 - 6:30 during cocktail hour.
Cash bar will be available during dinner.

Will there be a chance to donate to the cause at the event?

Yes, donations to the American Cancer Society will be available that night. There will be an ATM on site, if needed.

2019 Honorees





Kate Bewick


A couple of days before Thanksgiving 2013, Kate and her husband, Bryan, brought home the cutest little 'turkey'...Zoey Rose Bewick, to their two excited brothers, Zach and Cooper. They were living in Austin, TX at the time, where Bryan had taken a great job, and they all loved the neighborhood, schools, church and friends. Ten months after Zoey was born, Kate was still breastfeeding, when she discovered a little knot in her breast. She thought she probably had mastitis. Her 'mastitis' turned out to be a 5 1/2cm HER2-neg tumor. And so, at age 34, with 3 very young children, she began the nightmare of chemo, 26 rounds of radiation and many surgeries. Being young and otherwise healthy, she soon began training again for a sprint triathlon which she, and a group of her super hero girlfriends, completed. About six months later, not feeling up to par, she had a CT scan that revealed her cancer was stage IV and had moved to her pelvic bones and had mutated into HER2-pos. Back on more rigorous rounds of chemo, Bryan and she realized that they needed to be close to family to get the physical and emotional help they were going to need. Bryan accepted a job at Eglin AFB and they moved to Shalimar, just a mile from her mom and grandmother and other extended family members. The cancer has been in her bones, in her brain and now, last year, was discovered in her spinal fluid when she started losing the ability to use her legs. She is, however, very thankful to still be fighting the fight. God is great and Kate says she has so much to be thankful for! One of her main concerns, for her children, is for them not to think of her as a 'sick' mom. Zoey will turn six in November and all three kids are busy and active and love their school and love being close to family. They all even went on a cruise recently, and swam with the stingrays! Kate is resilient and one of the most positive people you will meet.



Sandie Brosnan


Sandie has so many emotions as she approaches her 14th anniversary since her diagnosis. First, she wants to honor all those who have gone through the Breast Cancer journey, especially those who are no longer with us. Sandie has been inspired and encouraged by each and every one of them. She was diagnosed at age 38 after a routine mammogram warranted a biopsy, her sons were five and eight years old and students at Liza Jackson Preparatory School. Their dad and her had separated just six weeks prior to her diagnosis with stage 2 ER+, PR+, Her2+ breast cancer, including two positive lymph nodes. She had a left mastectomy, did six rounds of chemotherapy (ATC), followed by 33 radiation treatments, and one year of Herceptin adjunctive chemotherapy. She had the opportunity to go to UAB for reconstruction one year later. As a Respiratory Therapist, her work families at FWBMC, CRMC and TCH have been instrumental in encouraging her through the surgeries and treatments. She has been incredibly blessed throughout this journey with compassionate physicians, nurses, technicians and wonderful godly friends from First Baptist Church of FWB, her family, especially the best caregivers ever, her sons Justin and Nick. She is also thankful to her dear husband Jay, to whom she's been married for six years. She is grateful to God for his grace and mercy! She'll was fourteen years cancer free on Sept. 12th, 2019 and continues to get checkups at least two times a year. Everyone's diagnosis, treatment, pathology and experience will be their own and unlike anyone else's. Her message to those battling cancer is "Keep your chin up and take it one day at a time. Surround yourself with positive people and avoid negativity as you are able."



Shelli Brown


Shelli has been married to her husband, Allen, for 35 years. They have two beautiful daughters, Monique and Jordan and a beautiful two year old grandson, Wyatt James. She is a Branch Retail Executive with BBVA in Crestview and has worked there for almost 22 years. Shelli's Breast Cancer journey started on October 16, 2002 (9 days before her 40th birthday). She was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. She had just had a mammogram in February and felt this lump during a self-breast exam. Her cancer treatments consisted of six rounds of chemotherapy, a mastectomy, six more rounds of chemotherapy, 33 radiation treatments and finally DIEP reconstruction. Because of her very public job, she often found herself in a position of sharing her experience, telling her story and listening to others. Many people come to Shelli and want to talk when they are newly diagnosed and she believes this is part of her honor as a survivor. The most important part of her story is never ever to forget your mammogram. She was also very determined to always remain very positive. This was not an easy journey, but she found lots of reasons to smile and laugh. She lost several friends that couldn't handle her illness, however, she found true friends along the way. If she could go back and change her journey, she says she would not. She is a stronger and better person because of her cancer. Shelli's message to others is, "Please remember.........My cancer showed up eight months after having a mammogram. Don't skip yours!"



Joyce Burkhart


Joyce was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pa. She attended Penn State University and then Widener University to obtain her Bachelors in Nursing Degree. Shortly after Graduation, she married Eric, her High School sweetheart and joined him at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. After many years and duty station transfers, her family settled in Niceville during the summer of 2000 where they raised their 3 children together. In August of 2003, she felt a lump in her right breast and was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. The cancer was Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma, Triple Negative. With no past family history, it was a shock to be presented with this diagnosis. Joyce then proceeded with a Lumpectomy, Sentinel Node Biopsy, Chemotherapy and Radiation treatments. It was a very stressful time for her, especially with having her husband deploying to Afghanistan in the middle of her treatment. She is very thankful to be a survivor for 16 years and enjoys life with her family, which now includes 3 precious grandchildren. She is currently a PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit) Nurse at Twin Cities Hospital. Joyce supports the American Cancer Society and participates in the Relay for Life every year in Niceville.



Billie Chappell


Billie Chappelle is an Air Force brat born at Shaw AFB in Sumter SC. Her Dad was a glider pilot for D-Day and was in the Air Force for 30 years when his final transfer in 1967 was to Fort Walton Beach. Her mom worked part-time in the Women's department of Smith's Department store in downtown Fort Walton Beach for several years. Billie graduated from Meigs Middle school and Choctaw High school and Florida State University. Billie left for 30 years for a marketing career handling fast-food clients across the SE and met her husband, Ron, of 39 years at a McDonald's in Birmingham AL. Their daughter lives in Atlanta working on medical software for hospitals and will be 35 this year. Beau, their pug, will be 6 this October and is a sweetheart that has them trained well! She found a lump during a monthly self-exam in the summer of 2007. Since she had a lump years ago, she followed the advice of her doctor back then to cut back on caffeine. The lump was still there in October and on Oct. 26, 2007 she was diagnosed w/Stage 2 breast cancer, due to the size of the lump which was the size of a thumb nail. Her lumpectoher surgery was November 26th and the 2 lymph nodes showed the cancer had not spread. The cancer was Triple Negative Receptor so the oncologist had her undergo (8) doses of dense chemo treatments every other week w/the chemical combination known as the "Red Devil" (nicknamed that because the color was blood red going into her body). This approach was like an atomic bomb that was dropped on her cancer because they wanted it gone! Then she had 40 targeted radiation treatments to make sure it was gone! Battle is a great word to describe Billie's medical journey that she's had to take, and one that you never want to make. Ron was by her side for everything and that made all the difference in the world knowing this is something they both shared and endured. The friends and family that come into this cancer journey help provide such a strong connection and will do anything to help you get through it too. During this journey, her day started with daily talks with God in the shower to remind her she was never alone and He would provide her with the strength to keep her positive and focused on "Killing the Monster"! Yep...her battle cry throughout the journey! She did learn from one of the many side effects that being "Bald as a Cue Ball" was really fun! Billie is so thankful to be approaching her 12th year cancer-free. The advice she give to others is to share your news and don't think you can make the journey alone. There are so many survivors that can inspire "Hope" and give insights to their journeys that can help you on yours. Recognize Life is finite and to capture all the moments of living with family and friends that you can while you're healthy to do that. Time is your most precious gift to give!



Sherry Clynch


Sherry is 53 and a breast cancer survivor. She is married to Mike Clynch and has two children, Desirae and Robert. On February 7, 2018, she went in for her yearly mammogram. A few days later she got called back in for more images. She wasn't concerned because last year she was negative just like every other year. They did another mammogram and asked her wait in the waiting area. The radiologist came out and wanted to do an ultrasound. They found an area of interest on her left breast. They scheduled the core biopsy for the next day and took four samples. Looking in the mirror at the bandage on her breast was her first wakeup call that this could be cancer. Friday her primary doctor called and said everything was good. Total relief, until Monday when the Radiologist called and said it was discordant. Off to the breast surgeon for a lumpectomy. It came back as Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and they would have to do another surgery to get clear margins, along with axillary dissection. She followed up with six weeks of radiation. Sherry celebrated one year cancer free this year! Her message to everyone is to make sure you do self- exams, along with mammograms. Your whole life can change in just one year.



Amanda Fiber


Amanda was first diagnosed at age 24 with stage 1 HER2+. She had a lumpectomy, then chemo AC, Taxol and one year of Herceptin then five weeks of radiation. Then at 27 years old the cancer came back in the same spot also stage 1 and she ended up having a bilateral mastectomy in fear that it would go to the other side. She got reconstructive surgery via latissimus flap and implants, followed by one year of Herceptin. At the age of 29 a lump was discovered by her collarbone in one of her lymph nodes. Cancer had returned at a stage of 3c. Again she went through chemo, carboplatin and Taxotere treatments and five weeks of radiation on her neck. She was also given Herceptin which she will continue for the remainder of her life or until her body no longer allows it. November this year will be 11 years cancer free and feels that the Herceptin seems to be keeping it in remission.



Pam Goodman


Pam has been married to her husband Bob for 19 years. She's originally from the coast of Mississippi and a survivor of Hurricane Katrina. She and her husband moved to Milton, FL in February 2019. She lived in Europe for 3 years while working for the Department of Defense and moved back to MS in August 2005. In October of 2005, she went for a routine mammogram. She was called back for an ultrasound and was told to wait for 6 months since she had no prior mammogram films to compare her results with. A doctor's appointment with a breast specialist revealed nothing as he could find no lump or physical abnormality. She talked to her family doctor and he ordered a biopsy. She was told on May 10, 2006 she had cancer. After bilateral mastectomy surgery and 6 rounds to intense chemotherapy, she was cancer free. Her message to all ladies, no matter their age, is to be proactive about their health and always have your mammograms done. It was truly a blessing she kept up to date on her mammograms and with the grace of God, she is here to share her message.



Sharon Harper


Sharon Harper is the Imaging manager at White-Wilson Medical Center, where she has held various positions over 33 years. She has three children, three grandchildren, and one new great-granddaughter. In April 2016 during her routine annual screening mammogram, an abnormality was noticed, so additional images and a breast ultrasound were performed. She has to say that, even with a background in the medical field, nothing prepares you for the words "You have breast cancer". However, she was fortunate that the mammography and ultrasound techs from her department were there with her when her tumor was found. They hugged and cried with her and the radiologist, Dr. Clinkscales, assured her it was small and that she would be ok. Soon she was diagnosed with stage I, Triple Negative breast cancer. Only about 15% of breast cancers are Triple Negative. This type of breast cancer is more aggressive, difficult to treat and is more likely to spread or recur. It does not respond well to hormone therapy drugs. After her lumpectomy, she underwent 16 rounds of aggressive chemotherapy and 22 radiation treatments. Those seven months were the most difficult in her life. Sharon couldn't have gotten through that time without the support of God, her family and friends, her surgeon Dr. Dali, the radiologists Drs. Clinkscales and Jones, the administration and management team at White Wilson Medical Center and especially her fantastic staff. They made sure she had a hot meal waiting after every chemo treatment, supported her by wearing hats to work when she lost all of her hair, and threw her a surprise luncheon to celebrate her last day of chemo which included a huge banner that said "Cancer, You Picked on the Wrong Person." Sharon states, "Having breast cancer is like being in a club you never wanted to join." However, she has found that there are some thoughts and feelings that can only be understood by those that have walked the same path. She has always stressed the importance of having routine yearly mammograms, and now she is a perfect example of how screenings can and do save lives!



Lori Kelley


Lori's breast cancer journey began in October of 2015, when she discovered a lump in her right breast. She wanted to ignore this discovery but quickly determined that she needed to have it checked out. Over the next several weeks, she experienced rounds of doctors, mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies. On the day before Thanksgiving she received the diagnosis that none of us want to get. It was cancer. Her doctor was realistic, but positive about her future, even referring to Lori as the poster child for early detection. The tumor was small, only about a centimeter and it was hormone receptor positive - good news on both accounts. Lori was an excellent candidate for a lumpectomy, which occurred in December of 2015. A MammaPrint test determined that she was a low risk for recurrence, so the only additional treatments were 20 rounds of radiation and Tamoxifen for five years. She is going on four years cancer free and credits her strength to her faith and the love and support of her family. She also recognizes and appreciates that the Breast Cancer movement of the 1980's & 90's created so much awareness and advocacy for the cause. It has given women, such as herself, an excellent chance to beat this disease and live cancer free for their rest of their lives!



Bonnie Manthey


After dealing with three years of shoulder issues resulting in surgeries to both shoulders, Bonnie realized she needed to focus on the REST of her body and have an annual check- up including Pap smear, hormone testing and mammogram. She had not had a mammogram in almost 10 years and wasn't really concerned as there is no history of breast cancer in her family. About two weeks before her scheduled mammogram, she noticed a lump near the cleavage of her right breast. She stated it felt like a tight muscle. When she got the "call back" for an ultra sound after the mammogram, she instantly knew what they were looking for. She went for a biopsy on July 31 st , the day after her 54 th birthday, and three days later her surgeon confirmed the biopsy was positive for breast cancer (HER2 Positive). Things moved fast from there. She was scheduled for a lumpectomy and lymph node removal the following Wednesday. Fortunately, the cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes. Shortly after that she had surgery to install a port and had her first chemo treatment September 20th. It was two weeks to the day that her hair started falling out by the handful. The day after getting back home from her niece's wedding, her daughter and granddaughter came over and they had a head shaving party. They laughed, they cried and then they shaved it! Bonnie had six chemo treatments, 33 radiation treatments and now takes the five-year breast cancer pill. She had her six month follow up mammogram and ultrasound on August 1 st and is happy to say the images were all NORMAL and show no signs of cancer! The thing Bonnie takes away from her breast cancer journey is how BLESSED she is!!! She has a tremendous family support system from her wonderful husband, Tony, two amazing daughters and two equally amazing sons, four beautiful grandchildren, her awesome sisters and her mom and incredible friends that are like family! Likewise, the support she received from her Church and her work family was amazing and she had great health insurance so she was free to take care of myself and just focus on getting better! Bonnie's faith in God is stronger for what she's been through because she believes He equipped her with everything she would need to fight the fight! She is grateful to Laurie Hollowell and Stand Up to Breast Cancer for letting her share her story and for the amazing service they do for the community! Bonnie has lived in Destin for 17 years.



Kimberly McGregor


As a child care professional, personal assistant, and chef, Kimberly McGregor has spent nearly 30 years taking care of others. But, in May of 2017, at the age of 50, Kimberly had to turn the attention to herself after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. Following an abnormal mammogram, a biopsy resulted in the diagnosis of Ductal Carcinoma. Fortunately, Kimberly's cancer was identified in the early stages, though she still required a lumpectomy of the left breast and radiation treatments thereafter. Kimberly is no stranger to cancer; she was also diagnosed in 2001, at 35 years old, with Hurthle Cell Thyroid cancer, for which she also underwent treatments. Her recent breast cancer diagnosis inspired her to change her life for the better by kicking the habit of smoking -- cold turkey -- and remaining nicotine free for the past two years. This was no easy feat during a very stressful time, but one of the best ways to stand up to cancer is to take action on the things you can control -- and, that's exactly what Kimberly did. Originally from the Fort Lauderdale area, Kimberly moved to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida nine years ago, where she is surrounded by the love of family and friends. Though Kimberly does not have any children of her own, she has shared her life with many beautiful loved ones through her work in child care. Given her "maternal" nature, Kimberly encourages everyone around her to get mammograms. Early detection saves lives, and she is proud to be a part of Stand Up To Breast Cancer.



Jeanie McKay


Jeanie's fight against cancer began over 32 years ago when she started her nursing career. She worked on the urology unit that housed oncology overflow patients. The first time she took care of a cancer patient, she knew that was what she wanted to devote her career to. Over the years, she has had the opportunity to serve in many different roles in cancer care, the most current as a member of Fort Walton Beach Medical Center's Cancer Program. So.......Jeanie is very familiar with cancer diagnosis, treatment and end of life care. Even though she is experienced in all things related to cancer, she was still terrified when she was called back for a follow-up 3-D mammogram last August. Her mammograms had always been negative, so she expected that it would turn out ok. Well, the repeat mammogram and ultrasound were suspicious, and she had a biopsy which discovered a small tumor in her right breast. He is so thankful to Dr. Beth Casenave, her mammography physician at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, for her expertise in diagnosing breast cancer. Early diagnosis is key to survival in all types of cancer, especially breast cancer. Jeanie had a double mastectoher in November, 2018, due to a strong family history of breast cancer, four cycles of chemotherapy and breast reconstruction in July 2019. She has a very good prognosis, for which she is grateful and is very thankful to all of the physicians and nurses involved in her care. Even though breast cancer is devastating in some ways, it can also be beneficial. You can choose how you react to cancer. She grew spiritually through this diagnosis-getting closer to God through her bible study and prayer. She loves her husband even more than before as he was with her throughout every step of the journey. Their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren are more precious to her now that she has had this health scare. She is blessed to have friends who were so supportive of her and she grew closer to them during the journey. Her favorite author, Lysa Terkeurst wrote "in the midst of all that is heartbreaking in our lives, we can fix our eyes on all that is going wrong or we can choose to purposefully praise God with a heart of trust." Jeanie chose's to trust him that she is cured of this disease and can continue with the rest of her life. She is looking forward to seeing how she can better serve others with cancer in the coming years!



Bonnie Rarick


Pink was never Bonnie's favorite color, but at age 61 she was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Now this color, pink, defines part of her life. A yearly checkup, plus a mammogram, was always on her agenda, without fail. Her husband's insurance paid for this medical service, which she appreciated. She had no family history of any cancer and never smoked in her entire life. After diagnosis of TNBC in October of 2012, she started eight rounds of chemo, followed by a Lumpectomy, and 35 rounds of radiation. Most of us going through this journey understand all the issues you deal with for all of these medical procedures - hair loss, vision problems, appetite changes, and personality changes are just a few problems we are challenged with. Missing many family activities, during your chemo time is hard. Daily she still deals with Lymphedema. With the strong help of her husband, family, co- workers, friends, neighbors, and clients she could endure this journey and resume her life and work. Bonnie has been a member of the support group, Cancer Sucks, a Bluewater/Niceville group, since 2013 and is a member of the team "Survivors and Friends" from the Niceville Valparaiso Relay for Life since 2014. She can now admit she tolerates the color pink. A survivor of seven years and age 68, Bonnie is grateful for each day of her life and her amazing support system.



Marcy Ruiz


Marcy's journey with breast cancer began in 1994 at the age of 35. She found a lump, the size of a green pea, while taking a shower. Upon her husband's return from participating in Operation Desert Storm, she told him what she had discovered. Things just snowballed after that. A mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy were done immediately. The tumor was removed with clean margins. Test results indicated she was ER+, HER2-. A lumpectoher was recommended. She decided to have a mastectoher instead and was given six rounds of chemo. She was cancer free for 16 years when the cancer decided to come back. A scan revealed an inoperable 4 cm tumor located behind her reconstructed breast. The tumor was biopsied at UAB Hospital. Results were also ER+, HER2-. The doctor told her that her estrogen was feeding this cancer. Her oncologist suggested Femara as chemotherapy, and within eight months the tumor was completely gone. Three years later, (2015) the cancer was back and this time it was angry. It was in her entire chest cavity, sternum, left pleura and eventually her liver. She took several drugs that were ineffective and progression continued. A new biopsy of her pleura revealed that she was now HER2+ (aggressive cancer). Her oncologist decided to bring out the big guns. She started on Taxotere, Herceptin, and Perjeta. Marcy is happy to say that although she has Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer, she is currently stable and her will to live is strong! She gets that strength from her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Staying positive is a must while on this journey. She has no time for negativity! She talks about her journey to any one that will listen. She prays daily that she can touch someone's heart with her positive words. Marcy is blessed to be surrounded by so much love and support during this journey. One of her blessings is her son, Willie III and his wife Anna. Then there is Gaby, her sweet granddaughter who just melts her heart. She so lucky to be her Gigi. The rock in her life is her husband and caregiver, Willie. He has been with her through every step of this journey. The love of her life for 40 years. She is blessed to have so many friends and relatives who are always there for her. Marcy would like to thank her wonderful oncologist, Dr. Melissa King at Eglin AFB and her amazing team of nurses, Dawn, Candi and Janet.



Sherry Schak


Sherry is 64 years old and has been married to her wonderful husband for 46 years. The have three grown children and five grandchildren. They have lived in Niceville for 21 years. Sherry was diagnosed in 2009 with stage 2 breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy and a few weeks later she had a mamosite implant with brachytherapy radiation. In March of 2010, she had another mammogram that showed the cancer was back or was never really gone. She got a second surgery and later underwent 33 treatments of radiation. Both times her nodes were clear so she did not have to have chemotherapy. Sherry thanks Dr. Sandra Hansen and The Breast Clinic for their excellent care. She has joined two different support groups. One group meets at Longhorn in Destin on the second Tuesday of every month at 6:00 PM. The other group is Bluewater Bay Survivors that meets the third Thursday of every month. Sherry is so happy to have the friendship of all of these women.



Lynn Thompson Bryant


Lynn received a call on President's Day, February 2004, and learned her routine mammogram was abnormal. Early detection gave her a major advantage. She had surgery on March 15. Although the tumor was malignant, the surrounding lymph nodes tested negative. Stage I: Good News! But the medical team all recommended the full regimen of Chemotherapy, Radiation, and five years of taking an oral estrogen inhibitor. She followed their good advice, and continued an additional five year clinical trial with a newer oral medication. The facts are easy to recount. Lynn knows the physical, emotional, and spiritual cycles for everyone involved is another story. No one ever wants to - or see their loved ones have to - experience cancer. No matter what the outcome, the journey is often one of physical turmoil, incredible support, and a deepening appreciation of the divine presence. She will forever be grateful to the countless friends and phenomenal family members who kept her afloat with inspiring encouragement, ginger-spiced foods, and treasured messages in the flood of beautiful cards.



Martha Van Dam


Martha's breast cancer revealed itself differently than what she would have expected. One morning while dressing, she discovered an area that was pink and about the size of her hand, on the underside of her breast, that looked like a slight sunburn or mild rash. She did not have pain, itching or a lump. Within a week she had a mammogram and ultrasound of the breast, which were both clear, however, a lump was evident in her lymph nodes in the ultrasound. An MRI and surgical biopsies revealed Stage 3b, Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC), with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is exceedingly grateful to have discovered the cancer at that point, since IBC is not recognizable prior to that Stage, is often not seen on mammograms since it usually does not form a lump, is very fast growing and is extremely aggressive. Stage 3b is the earliest it can be detected. While realizing many do not have the support she was freely given, she is eternally grateful for the support she received from her husband, who attended every appointment and procedure with her and cared for her throughout treatment. Her 80-year-old mother drove down from Birmingham following every treatment to help care for her during the worst days following each treatment and her sister, also from Birmingham, left her own family to care for Martha for the week following her surgery. She was showered with love from extended family and friends. Following her year of treatment, which involved chemotherapy, targeted therapies, mastectomy, lymph node dissection and radiation, she has been deemed NED (No Evidence of Disease). As a practicing psychotherapist in the area, she is in the process of shifting the focus of her practice to support oncology patients and their loved ones. She also is active in an international group (IBC Network Foundation) whose mission is to raise money for research for IBC and to educate women about the warning signs and urgency to advocate for specialized treatment.



Candis Wilson


Breast cancer is something very common to Candis due to a family history. Her mother and sister both had mastectomies and her aunt and grandmother died from the disease. Candis was very careful as to her mammogram and breast exam schedule. She saw a breast surgeon every 6 months. In April 2018 Candis at age 66 went in for her mammogram and the doctor ordered an ultrasound which was followed by a biopsy. This news was not alarming because she had been getting ultrasounds for years and several biopsies that all came back benign. When the doctor came back this time with a diagnosis of cancer that required a mastectomy, due to the cancer being in multiple areas, and scheduling surgery within a week - it was quite a blow. Once the realization of cancer and losing her breasts, Candis had to make major decisions. A single or bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction or not, and if reconstruction, what kind? The American Cancer Society website provided a wealth of knowledge regarding all of the options. Candis finally decided on a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction with implants. All of the cancer was removed, and the lymph nodes were clear, so chemotherapy or radiation was not needed. Her doctor recommended genetic testing which she had done in 2012 and she did not have the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. Progress has been made in genetic testing and her new test shows she has a variant identified in RAD51D which has a risk of ovarian and breast cancer. Candis' daughter was tested, and she also has the gene which now she will be very conscious of consistent monitoring of her health. Candis would encourage anyone with a history of breast cancer or who develops breast cancer to have genetic testing. Giving knowledge to your immediate family is very powerful and early detection does save lives. Candis is very thankful for all of the loving support from her husband, family and friends.


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