Friday, February 8, 2008

Inspirational women

Now that I've had a couple of rants on here, I'm going to change tone and talk more about the many wonderful women whose stories you've shared with me. These are women who've been important in your lives -- mothers, sisters, mothers-in-law, friends, co-workers -- who've battled breast cancer and been an inspiration to you with their courage, determination and strength. In each of these oh-so-brief entries, sent in response to the contest on my website, wwww.sherrylwoods.com, I've felt the spirit of these women. I hope that sharing a few of their stories with all of you will inspire you, give you strength if you're going through your own battle with breast cancer, and most of all, help you to know that you are not walking this path alone.

If you'd like to share your own story here or tell us in more detail about one of your loved ones, please click on the comment link below, or email me directly at Sherryl703@gmail.com.

In the meantime, a few more stories of hope, a few more heartfelt memories to be shared.

Michelle writes to submit the name of her friend, Rani, "a friend and co-worker recently diagnosed with stage 3 bilateral breast cancer. Rani is fairly young to be going through this and comes to work nearly every day with her newly shaved head(refused to wait to see if her hair would fall out) and a wonderfully positive attitude."

Jacqueline wants to honor "two lovely women in my family who are survivors. My sister, Janet, has had two bouts with breast cancer, the last one taking her breast. She looks for the positive and is soon to be a grandmother for the first time. The second young woman is my daughter-in-law, Jennifer. Jen is a hospice nurse who takes care of people with the same thing. She is amazing and shows so much compassion
to everyone. I want her to be able to see her son, 11, grow up and be a kind and caring man."

From Janet comes the story of her niece Cindi, "an incredible athlete, coach and role model. She is a past honorary survivor for the Indianapolis Race for the Cure and has inspired many people with her courageous story."

Another Janet asks to honor her mother, Marian, "the kindest, funniest, bravest, scrappiest woman I have ever known -- my all-time hero."

Vera, a survivor of more than twenty years, each year sponsors a tea "that raises thousands of dollars for breast cancer." Cheryl submitted her name to be honored.

Patricia wants to honor her mother, "who died of breast cancer at the age of 31. She had six children at the time and she found homes for all of us before she passed away and in 1999 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I remembered how brave she was. I also want to remember my adoptive mother, Evalynn, who died of cancer.

So many stories. I'll share more of them next time. If you have someone whom you'd like remembered or would like to honor, you can still enter the contest for the $100 March donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Go to www.sherrylwoods.com and click on contest.

Sherryl Woods

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Forget Three Little Words, Focus on Three Little Numbers


Heading into the month of October, when our thoughts are centered on the fall activities of craft fairs, football and back-to-school activities, our attention is also called to the "pink blitz" month for breast cancer awareness.

As an eighteen-year survivor of this life-changing disease, I celebrate my own and my aunt's survivorship, and remember those who have passed "Over the Rainbow," along with my mother and Grandmother.

However, I am so distressed to read lately that the numbers of women getting their mammograms are falling. Falling? It is simply inconceivable to me.

You see, my mother was diagnosed with her first breast cancer at age 33. People did not discuss breast cancer in the mid-fifties, and no one in my mother's family had ever had breast cancer. Mother was comfortable with the lumps she assumed were "clogged milk glands" in her breast as she had also nursed her three older children. She lost her breast to a radical mastectomy in these pre-mammogram, pre-chemo days but went on to live another 33 years. My Dad was told she had a 50-50 chance of survival.

At 66 Mother was diagnosed with an all new cancer in her other breast, but this time, despite her diligence with diet, exercise and having mammograms every six months, Mom's cancer had been missed. She died at 71.

So every year in memory of Mama, I say to women as often as possible—just remember three little numbers. They can save your life. They are: 98 percent of all breast cancers are CURABLE if caught early; 75percent of all women have NO breast cancer in their family, and 90 percent of all breast lumps found are BENIGN
.
I would tattoo these numbers on women's chests if I could.

No. 1--what could be more encouraging to hear that if you practice good breast health procedures, i.e., breast self-exams and yearly mammograms, you have a 98 percent chance of saving your life because you have found your cancer early?

No. 2--we must get the word out there that 75 percent of all women diagnosed do not have breast cancer in their family. Women think that there must be a history, but the reality is that only five to seven percent of all breast cancers are genetic.

No.3 – 90 percent of the time, that lump is just lumpy breast tissue, so don't waste precious moments of your life worrying unnecessarily.

These numbers are easy to remember & reassuring. Get those mammograms. You owe it to you, and to your family.

Ellen P. Stucker of Memphis, TN

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