Bonnie Bell was diagnosed at age 41 - and will be turned 59 on August 23rd!! She's will have been married for 40 years this November and has three children and four grandchildren. She has been a Krewe Du Yaya Member for 10 years. She is very thankful to be involved in this mission to Stand up to Breast Cancer. Live, Laugh, Love - always! In 2001, Bonnie scheduled a long overdue annual mammogram. She was called back that next week for a biopsy on a spot that looked suspicious. When the results arrived, she went to see her physician, thinking nothing of it. The physician asked if anyone came with her, because the results came back as cancer. The entire time the physician was talking, Bonnie's mind was spinning with hearing the news she had cancer. She immediately called her husband. Her next decision was to get surgery scheduled. Her surgeon said she was really lucky because she had a treatable, curable type of cancer. She had a partial mastectomy and lymph node dissection. The node came back positive so she started chemo, then radiation, then more chemo, and then started on a five-year hormone drug treatment. Bonnie's chemo treatments made her so ill she could not work and when her hair started to fall out, she just had her son shave her head. Having a bald head gave her the opportunity to tell others her story and to promote breast health awareness which had become extremely important to her. With the support of her family, friends and people she met along the way, Bonnie got through the long journey, and it definitely changed her outlook on life. She hopes that her story can help other women - the importance of mammograms is definitely the highpoint of her speech to anyone who will listen. Her goal has been to reach out to others going through their own recovery and hopefully inspire them to succeed in their journey. She has been blessed to be a member of the Krewe du YaYas and have truly learned from her sisters to live, laugh and love.
Originally hailing from Muncie, Indiana, Shirley is a 38-year resident of Shalimar, Florida; a 28-year breast cancer survivor, and 25-year facilitator of the area's most successful breast cancer support group, Bosom Buddies. Since 1989, Bosom Buddies has offered breast cancer survivors in the Fort Walton area help, hope, and friendship in living lives as normal as possible. Shirley recently celebrated her 80th birthday, a special milestone she has worked hard to obtain since being diagnosed with cancer at the age of 52. She thanks God, her husband and two children, and her fellow Bosom Buddies for the love that has sustained her in standing up to breast cancer all the days of the continuing journey. Shirley invites breast cancer survivors to join Bosom Buddies (through the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center) for help and support with their own journeys towards wellness and happiness.
In a million years Danielle never thought she would get breast cancer, much less be a breast cancer survivor. She did not have a family history nor did she ever smoke. About 15 years ago she felt a lump in her left armpit so she went to see her family doctor and he ordered a mammogram. Everything came back normal but when she went back in 2015 it came back abnormal. She underwent a biopsy and the results came back with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) which means cells that line the milk ducts of the breast have become cancerous, but they had not spread into surrounding breast tissue. Within two weeks, she went in for surgery and had a left breast mastectomy. She owes everything to her faith and the love and support of her family and friends - she is going into my third year of remission. She is a breast cancer survivor!
Catherine Graybill has lived in Fort Walton Beach for over 33 years, working in the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center Radiology Department. After a routine mammogram, she received an abnormal report. A biopsy was done resulting in a diagnosis of Ductal Carcinoma in Situ, with a lumpectomy and radiation following shortly thereafter. Due to early detection chemotherapy was avoided. She is now eight years cancer free and enjoying life with her three Scottish terriers. She encourages everyone to get their annual mammogram. Early detection saves lives!
Michelle Hedman, MSN, RN
Michelle's battle with breast cancer began on February 21, 2011 when she was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Her breast cancer has already spread to three areas in her spine and her right hip. She went through 20 rounds of radiation to shrink the spine tumors and then chemotherapy for six months. She's had 12 major surgeries, from bilateral mastectomies to spine surgery to stabilize her weakened spine (due to the tumors). There were countless complications along the way to include pulmonary embolism, chest tubes, lung infections, etc. But through all of this she found her strength through her family and friends and of course, her God. Today, she is stronger than she was yesterday and owes it all to her amazing clinicians, her father, her mother, her friends and her faith. She is able to work full time now, doing what she loves - taking care of surgical patients in the operating room. She serves as a community advocate for living Beyond Breast Cancer, providing trusted information and education to those individuals impacted by breast cancer. She volunteers for two local organizations to raise funds for Breast Cancer (Krewe du YaYas) and ovarian cancer (Krewe of Vixers). She has also started her own non-profit called For One More Day, which will focus on providing education services within the community here in the Pensacola Panhandle. As long as she is strong enough, she will continue to advocate for breast cancer awareness, education, early access to care and more research development.
Joann was born in Russellton, Penn in 1951 and has been married to her husband, William, for 48 years. They spent the first 20 years of their life together traveling the world when William was active duty Air Force. She did 36 years of service in the Department of Defense, USAF and just retired this past August. Joann was first diagnosed in 2005 (left breast) and again in 2009 in the (right breast). That's where she was diagnosed with both Lobular and ductal cancers, being told that was unique! What laid ahead was seven surgeries thru the years, two mastectomies, ports in and out for chemo, tissue expanders, treatments with that and finally the implants, twice. For four months she endured chemo treatments they referred to as "the red devil". She had the most wonderful medical personnel on earth and she feels they truly saved her life. She is now a little over ten years cancer free. Her cancer was heredity with five previous relatives dying from breast cancer. However, Joann followed her life's lessons of having a positive attitude and a sense of humor. She's learned how strong she is and just how strong and supportive her family has been. Now that she's cancer free, and a survivor, she knows those previous times of struggle and pain had been worth it. Her and her husband try to spend more time with each other and their family, never taking a day for granted. Now that they are both retired, they'll be doing more traveling and visits with their family. Her favorite saying is to "Dream as if you'll live forever, and live as if you won't"
While showering one morning, Kathy felt a lump in her right breast. After a couple weeks, it was still there and had not reduced in size. A few months later she went in for a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy, all on the same day. Definitive diagnosis of Triple Negative Breast Cancer on 5/22/17, Lumpectomy with axillary dissection on 5/25/17, port placement on 6/14/17 and chemo started on 6/21/17. She had a total of 20 weeks of chemo with three different medications, followed by 32 radiation treatments. She lost her hair after the 2nd dose of chemo and just embraced the baldness! She was off work for just under 4 months and begged to go back. Her oncologist finally gave in to her requests and allowed her to return to the hospital helping Employee Health (not her normal position in the ER) all while still receiving weekly chemo treatments. She returned to the ER in full time, full duty in April 2018. So far, all repeat PET scans are clear as was her last mammogram. Her words of advice to anyone fighting this disease is "Don't ever let cancer define who you are." Kathy didn't. She got up every day and did something that made her feel good. That kept her going.
In January, 2000 she married her best friend and was blessed with two children, full of laughter and surprises and lots of adventure. It's been 18 years and she's still counting. In July 2017, her doctor suggested a mammogram. She remembers the first time not being so bad. But when she was called back multiple times for more imaging, she knew something was wrong. She's a strong woman so she tried to stay positive. October is when she was told she had stage 2 breast cancer. She remembers how upset she became on the hour long drive home after seeing her doctor. She kept telling herself to calm down and to not cry in hopes of making it home safe. It wasn't easy telling herself to not think about having stage two breast cancer - but she knew that life must move on and knew that God would not allow this to happen if he knew she could not handle it. Chemo started January 2018, every 3 weeks. It was very hard and she thought she would die. But she didn't give up. She has the support of all her friends and family and most of all her husband. She continued working while a lot of co-workers would ask her why she was working instead of resting. Continuing to work was actually what helped her battle cancer. It helped her keep busy and allowed her to not think about having cancer every minute of the day. Being around people was also her therapy. No words can express how much she appreciates everything her husband did and still does for her and their children. He is always there by her side and she feels she wouldn't make it through this disease without him.
Linda is 65 years old and a breast cancer survivor. It all started in 2017 - she was overdue for her annual mammogram. Her daughter-in-law, Christin, is a mammography technologist and encouraged her to utilize the Genius 3D Mammography Exam. This new technology can detect 41% more cancer early and with more detail. Her breast cancer was discovered early, because of Christin's recommendation, this new technology provided her with the best outcome. Linda feels the Genius 3D Mammography Exam saved her life due to early detection and advanced equipment. Her breast cancer was discovered in October and was diagnosed as ductal carcinoma in situ - 0 (DCIS), estrogen and progesterone positive and removed with a lumpectomy. She received radiation therapy daily for a month following surgery and is currently on the drug Tamoxifen for the next five years to prevent reoccurrence of the breast cancer. She is proud to say that she's a breast cancer "survivor." Her message to whomever is reading this is to make time for yourself, do your monthly self-breast exams, and don't delay on your annual mammogram. Early detection does save lives. Be proactive in your health!
Former Okaloosa County Commissioner Dave Parisot of Shalimar is an 8-year survivor of breast cancer. When he felt a lump in his left breast back in July 2010, he knew what it was. After watching his older sister and two nieces fight breast cancer, Dave knew that men could be diagnosed, too; although he never suspected it would be him. He made an appointment with his physician and that led to a mammogram, breast biopsy, and ultimately to a mastectomy on August 13th. His cancer was already a stage 2 when removed. Dave feels 'lucky' in that his surgeons were able to remove all of the effected tissue, his lymph nodes checked clear, and he did not need to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Perhaps the most difficult part of Dave's breast cancer battle was continuing his campaign for Okaloosa County Commissioner, but he didn't let the diagnosis get in the way. He ended up winning the election to be the District 2 commissioner. His surgery was six days prior to the primary election and when he was released from the hospital, he went straight to a campaign event. Ironically, Oct. 1, 2010, the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, was when Dave was told he was cancer-free. A few days later, he went public with his experience. He's not the only male in the community with breast cancer. There are other men who have shared their story after hearing about Dave's experience. During the month of October, you'll likely see him sporting one of his many pink ties and survivor pins. Even though breast cancer is generally seen as a woman's cause, even the ribbon is a stereotypical pink, Dave doesn't shy away from embracing his survival story.
Desley Parker, PCC
Desley Parker is a certified Life Coach and owner of Success With Desley LLC. She has been coaching in this community, nationally and internationally for nearly 20 years. Desley was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer while she was working on The Little Black Dress Committee. She had missed her annual mammogram, and was feeling hypocritical encouraging others when she had not taken appropriate action herself. That being said, God works in mysterious ways. Being early stage, it may not have been detected six months earlier. The breast cancer was not detected by mammogram , but was by ultrasound. Treated with lumpectomy, chemo therapy and radiation, Desley is celebrating seven years cancer free. Traveling with Brance and enjoying grandchildren are her focus today.
Jeanne is a retired marketing director from the NWF Daily News. Her breast cancer was found in her left breast in 1999 during an annual mammogram. The news was devastating as she had lost an aunt to breast cancer in the early 90s. She underwent lumpectomy surgery and radiation. She feels very fortunate as the treatment was not too difficult. The love of her family and friends was amazing and so touching and that is what got her through it all. Then in 2014, during a routine mammography that turned into an ultrasound, stage 2 was found in her right breast but with no lymph nodes involved. Another lumpectomy was followed up with radiation. Then it was her decision whether to have chemo. She really didn't want to do it, but was afraid not to. But after one session, she was sent to the hospital because of the side effects. After that she chose not to have any more chemo treatments. She feels the Lord has been with her through these experiences and she prays it will never return again.
Martha (Marti) Shearer was born in Alabama and raised in Panama City, Florida. At 71 she noticed that her right breast seemed different and went to her doctor, who told her it was nothing. About 6 months later she noticed that her left breast was showing the same symptoms, so she was finally sent for a mammogram. The radiologist took multiple pictures, which made her anxious. Finally the doctor diagnosed that it was breast cancer and told her to consult a surgeon. The surgeon found a stage 3 slow growing cancer in her right breast and a very aggressive fast growing stage 4 cancer in her left breast, which necessitated the removal of the lymph nodes on the left side as well. Following a lumpectomy and several rounds of chemo and radiation, she triumphed over the cancer. During her chemo and subsequent illness that she experienced, she became depressed and convinced she was going to die. She had a visitor that checked on her every week. One visit will stand out forever in her memory. The visitor came in and said "The Lord spoke to me last night and said to tell you that He is not finished with you yet." What a Blessing and joy to hear those words! It provided her with the strength and hope to carry on!! She realized that God had not forsaken her, but was with her throughout her ordeal. Sometimes we need to be reminded: He is not finished with you yet!
Charlotte Snow is a six year cancer free survivor! She currently resides in Navarre, Florida. She is a divorcee with two adult children - one son, Ronald Tubb and a beautiful daughter, Angie Tubb. She is also a proud grandmother of two. Ronald and his wife, Dawn live in Biloxi, MS and Angie lives in Navarre, FL. Charlotte loves and enjoys her family, pets and gardening. Growing roses and reading are her favorite pastimes. She works part-time in Admissions at Twelve Oaks Rehabilitation Center in Navarre. Due to all the cancer awareness made known in the month of October, Charlotte decided to have a breast exam in 2012. Having that mammogram probably saved her life. November of that same year she had breast cancer surgery. Charlotte feels blessed because her cancer was caught in the early stages. She had a lumpectomy then a second one for clearer margins. Had there not been so much cancer awareness made public, Charlotte may have waited too long to be checked. But she is
a survivor now and lives to tell about it! She wants to thank everyone who works so hard to make the public more aware and encouraged to get mammograms. It saves lives!
Terri is a 62 year old Air Force brat. She has been a resident of Fort Walton Beach since 1970 and has been married to her wonderful, supportive husband, Danny, for 43 years. She has two wonderful sons and three grandchildren. Terri is a retired registered nurse of 30 years. Terri had no family history of breast cancer. She had a mammogram in April of 2016 and all was clear. In July 2016, after a day of boating, Terri found a large lump under her right breast while she showered. She thought it was maybe just an abscess since she had just had a mammogram three months prior. The next day she called her physician who scheduled an appointment for an ultrasound and biopsy. The results determined it was cancerous. A lumpectomy was performed along with genome testing. The tumor was the size of an egg. Terri went through nine months of chemotherapy and radiation which resulted in eight hospital stays. She has been in remission for one and a half years! Terri credits her wonderful family for their support and prayers that she made it through and is doing well. As a survivor, Terri can't emphasize the importance of frequent self-exams. With new research and genetic testing she feels we will defeat this disease one day. She also thanks the wonderful staff at Emerald Coast Cancer Center, along with Drs Henry, Harvey, Change and Burkland for their wonderful care.
Teresa Stinehelfer is 56 years old and has been married for 35 years. She has two children and four grandchildren. In November 2017 she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. Upon hearing this news, her life became a big whirlwind. She feels so blessed to have such a great support system, not only from her family (her wonderful husband, daughter and son) who were there for every doctor appointment, but from her husband for being with her through her chemo appointments. Her daughter, Amy, and her son, Sean, filled in at Chemo appointments when her husband could not be there. Her work family supported her with love and understanding when the days were rough. Her family that lives out of state called frequently to check on her and just to let her know that they loved her. She thanks the team of doctors and nurses who showed so much love and support when things got really rough. Teresa feels that she would not be where she is today without all the love and support she received from everyone. She feels truly blessed.
Pamela Register Tisza
Pamela Tisza feels it was through God closing one door, and opening another that helped her learn that she had breast cancer. When Pamela went for her annual mammogram, she learned that her physician no longer accepted her insurance. Door closed. When she called the insurance company, she was worried about where to go for her mammogram. After several options were provided, she scheduled an appointment at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center for a 3D mammogram exam. Door Opened. After the mammogram was read by the radiologists, she received a call to return for another mammogram and an ultrasound. After both, the Radiologist calmly explained that she would probably need a biopsy. Pamela underwent a lumpectomy, and was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). The lump was undetectable by a self-exam because of the location, which was very near the chest wall, and would likely have been undetected in a regular 2D mammogram as well. She is convinced that it was through God's intervention, and the 3D imaging that provided early detection of her cancer. While undergoing surgery, 33 radiation treatments, and daily medication, Pamela is grateful for her wonderful husband, Marc and his infinite prayer and support. She is also grateful for the humor, and the "you've got this, Mom" encouragement of her children, her "Fantastic Four." Pamela is grateful to be cancer free and grateful to be a survivor.
On February 5, 2003, Faye was diagnosed with stage three Breast Cancer. She had been having regular mammograms every six months because of a lump she felt in her right breast. Her physician and radiologist continued to tell her it was just knotty tissue but they would keep an eye on it. When the breast started to feel hot to the touch, she made the decision to make an appointment with her primary care physician so he could refer her to a surgeon to have the lump removed. Her primary care physician knew immediately something was wrong after he completed a breast exam. On February 28th she underwent a right breast mastectomy. Her chemo started in May, lasting for three months. Due to the type of cancer she had, radiation was also part of her treatment and that began in September. Today, she is a 15 year survivor and gives all the credit to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the wonderful surgeon he sent her to. And through it all she is able to say "I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13
Cheryl was 38 years old when she discovered her breast cancer through a self-breast exam while taking a shower. Pathology revealed that she was estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 negative (or triple negative), which means her cancer was aggressive and would not respond well to hormone therapies. She also had one out of sixteen lymph nodes positive (stage 2) for cancer. After her diagnosis, Cheryl discussed with her surgeon whether having a lumpectomy or mastectomy was best in her case. She chose to have a mastectomy since her cancer was so aggressive and since she was going to have six months of chemotherapy, she didn't want the addition of insult on her body with the radiation that she would have with the lumpectomy. In the months to years following the mastectomy and chemotherapy, Cheryl went through the emotional ups and downs that come with having breast cancer. She experienced hair loss, loss of eyebrows and eyelashes, breasts that were flat on one side and full on the other, decreased self-confidence and sexuality, embarrassment, and even some isolation from "friends" that couldn't handle the illness, or thought she was contagious. Cheryl is now 22 years cancer free. Although, having cancer is a disease that she does not wish for any individual, the journey has given her a better appreciation for life, and a better understanding as a health care provider for patients with similar conditions. Cheryl follows up with her oncologist every six months for blood tests, and mammograms every year. She highly recommends that every female past puberty perform self-breast exams monthly, and have mammograms when their physician feels the necessity (or every year after 40). She now only has 3-D mammograms since she has found they are more reliable and can differentiate better than 2-D.
Though Kathy feels blessed that she hasn't had as far of a fight as most survivors, she still went through emotions that she never thought she's go through. On June 29, 2017, during her annual routine mammogram with the latest 3D mammography she asked to wait while Dr. Norman Clinkscales checked the images....which showed a suspicious area in her right breast. She was immediately scheduled for a breast biopsy, done by Dr. Duffy. The results were that she was a victim of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma of the right breast. She underwent a Lumpectomy on July 12, 2017, with a sentinel node biopsy by Dr. Robert Rogers. Nodes were clear, so chemotherapy was avoided, but she endured 19 weeks of accelerated, double-dose radiation therapy with Dr. James Stevens and his amazing staff. She returned to work upon finishing therapy, but was left with what she calls a "mutilated mutant" to this breast...but she feels blessed that her follow-up diagnostic mammogram showed negative. SHE ROCKS THE PINK!! Kathy's heart goes out to those who had more drastic diagnoses and surgery/treatments.