Breast cancer has a history on both sides of Lilly’s family. Knowing this, she has been especially vigilant, since her twenties, and has had her doctors keep a keen eye out for any issues. At the age of 55, what she did feel was almost inevitable, finally did happen … her mammogram and follow-up scans turned up Stage One Breast Cancer. This was in a specific spot her doctor had been watching since 2009.
One cannot over-emphasize the importance of keeping up with annual check-ups. The fact that this was caught early meant that her course of treatment was far easier, than if this had progressed further. The biggest benefit was also that she did not need to go through Chemotherapy. Another plus, in this case, was that the surgical biopsy itself removed all the affected tissue and there was no need for any more follow-up surgery. There was radiation treatment for 6 weeks and she is taking a hormone-blocker, tailored to her. Both of these treatments are destined to put the odds of success almost entirely in her favor.
Lilly has been supporting the breast cancer awareness program through Morton Plant Mease Hospital for the past three years, and it is especially poignant that it was her receiving care there this year.
My identical twin sister was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago this year. She discovered a lump in her breast during her own self breast examination. She was a healthy young woman, who was committed to working out daily, eating right, and didn’t abuse her body with alcohol, or nicotine. It couldn’t possibly be cancer she thought. But she made an appt. with her doctor and since learned she had breast cancer, subsequently having a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, and continues to take tamoxifen. Though she does not have the BRCA gene, and I have not had breast cancer, I continue to do my own self examinations, and we continue to reach out to our friends, family members, and people within our community to be vigil about their own self.
We believe early detection saves lives, and we want everybody to know that! Tanya never said “Why me?” She always said, “Thank God for me because I wouldn’t want her (Sonya) to go through it,” and during her “fight” with breast cancer, (because it truly is a fight), she maintained her life as a mother of a teenage son, a wife, and a career woman. We became volunteers with The American Cancer Society, being asked to speak at local chapter Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events. We talked to local media on television news, and radio, printed collateral, billboards, and our own personal fundraising. We formed teams of people to help raise money and awareness for breast cancer, raising over $30,000 with the help of our friends, family members, and our community. Organizing events of over 100 people that would come together to celebrate Tanya’s survivor-ship. Tanya has consulted newly diagnosed women with breast cancer about her experience, encouraging them and giving them an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. Someone who they may have never met before, but they have so much in common with, and can truly understand what they are going through. She journaled during her recovery time as well, and through her writings helped people around her understand what it was like for a breast cancer patient, and helped us to better understand our own personal relationship with her, and others around us. We have her journal in a draft format that we hope one day to save enough money to have published, and continue to raise awareness!
I’m happy to say 5 years and she is still cancer free! Tanya took all the positive she could out of what should have been the worst time in her life. And I’m confident, behind closed doors there were many dark moments of doubt and fear. But her compassion and encouragement to others was an unwavering spirit. Whether it be emotional support that you offer as a caregiver, or financial support, your help in fighting this disease goes far in the hope of finding a cure and helping breast cancer patients through their recovery. From the assistance of the voucher program to help early detective, to research for prevention, and finding a cure, we all have the ability to make a difference. Tanya’s shares the hope of the butterfly effect theory. This proven scientific theory states that when a butterfly flaps its wings, it sets air molecules in motion that are able to influence a change in weather patterns on the other side of planet. Her encouragement is if the flapping wing of the butterfly can cause a chain of events leading to huge differences across the planet, imagine the change that we can create, a world with less cancer and more birthdays.