Pink Impact: This is My Why
October 27, 2016
This is My Why
Pink Impact: Breast Care at MSU
Who will make a difference in the fight against breast cancer? Who will reduce barriers to care for men and women who cannot afford life-saving services? Spartans Will.
In observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, MSU faculty and staff write about their “Pink Impact Passion Perspective” and their “why.” Learn more about breast health resources by visiting the Pink Impact Breast Care Services at the MSU Facebook page.
The Third Time Isn't a Charm and the Fourth Time is Too Much
Putting her pen to paper with tears running down her face, a Mother struggles over choosing the right words. Except in this situation there are no right words. Carol Vondrasek sits alone with the burden that she is responsible for putting her three children at risk of getting cancer. She carries a rare BRCA gene mutation that has a 50% chance of being passed down – possibly to her grandchildren that have not yet been born.
Carol is a cancer survivor – not once, not twice, and not even thrice. It was the fourth time that bad misfortune came over her. The family understood this battle would be lost. She did not come home from the hospital. I think about the relentless hold that cancer had on Carol’s life and how even in the last days - her eyes they shone like diamonds. Cancer would take her from us but she would not let it break her.
Going through this experience changes a person. You become more aware of the relentless hold cancer can have on a family. The thought of your mortality when you have so much to live for can make you feel like you cannot breathe. And at times that you do not have the strength to endure. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and I will help them carry the burden of cancer.
This is my Pink Impact Passion Perspective, Jill Vondrasek, Marketing and Communications Director.
From the Eyes of a Child
Summers in Michigan with my Grandma Lou were sparklers, homemade popsicles, eating her special dish “long b-sghetti”, and bicycle rides. In addition to being my grandma she was a talented seamstress with a flair for fashion. She always wore beautiful dresses and her dark wavy hair was pulled back in a stylish French twist.
I was too young to remember her first breast diagnosis but when I was twelve she had her second diagnosis of breast cancer affecting her second breast. She had already been through one radical mastectomy and axillary node dissection, chemotherapy, and radiation. Now she had to endure this procedure a second time.
Her diagnoses and treatment were in the late 60’s and 70’s, which meant that she had radical mastectomy surgeries removing all the breast tissue and muscles in the chest. All this treatment was without reconstruction or prosthesis options-which are mandated now. It was difficult to see her scars as she used rags to fill her bra as a sort of prosthesis. Chemotherapy had caused her beautiful long, dark, wavy hair to fall out - replaced by a wig. Grandma Lou took all this in stride not letting this affect her outlook on life or beauty. However, the cancer eventually metastasized to her liver and took her from us.
This is my Pink Impact Passion Perspective, Mary Smania, Family Nurse Practitioner.
Ignoring a Breast Mass Became a Death Sentence
It was a hot day in the summer. My family and I were splashing around in the pool and enjoying laughs with the smell of BBQ wafting in the air. I remember feeling joy as we had a poolside picnic. Little did I know that things were about to change for our family. Alarmed, my sister-in-law Kim called me over to seek my professional opinion. As she moved her bathing suit top to the side I could plainly see a large mass resting underneath her skin. With a voice of concern she asked, “Kim, What should I do?”
By the time she found the courage to reach out to me - 5 months of precious time had passed. She chose to ignore the mass because she did not have health insurance. After deciding to seek out treatment she experienced the complexities of navigating through the healthcare system. Time. We were losing precious time!
At the age of 32 Kim was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She lost her battle with cancer two years later and became a victim of the disease. I think about her every day and how things could have been different – if only we had more time.
This is my Pink Impact Passion Perspective, Kimberly Anderson, Medical Assistant.
Moments Frozen in Time
Looking into the fearful eyes of a woman that is newly diagnosed with breast cancer –I start the dialog to teach them about their looming surgery. As the room spins in a whirlwind of
information, these moments become frozen in time. My patients do not remember most of what I tell them. They are in shock of what lies before them. I know, because after 16 years as a nurse working with breast cancer patients – I became the patient.
I had breast cancer and needed to work through all the feelings I use to talk to my patients about. Suddenly I was not longer the caregiver; I was the one that needed healing. I remembered all the advice I gave to other women and now I had to use those words for myself. How would I survive being the one who was sick?
My life has been changed forever since finding out I have breast cancer. I will always fear a reoccurrence. I will always fear the next mammogram. Out of any event in a person’s life, be it happy or sad, good can come out of it. I am a better person and a better caregiver for having cancer. I am a healthy healer!
Healthy healers will understand that and provide the results of any test as soon as possible. Healthy healers need to use a holistic approach; and treat not only the cancer, but the emotional needs of their patients. Healthy healers will be partners with their patients, and build a trusting relationship that will support and heal.
This is my Pink Impact Passion Perspective, Pam Haan, Nurse Navigator.
Pink Impact: Breast Care at MSU
Serving individuals in Mid-Michigan, specifically in the counties of Jackson, Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Shiawassee, Livingston and Washtenaw.
Help MSU inform the community by liking and sharing the Pink Impact: Breast Care at MSU Facebook page. Individuals that have questions or need help accessing services can direct their inquiries to MSU by calling (517) 267-2460 or emailing email@example.com.
For more information on Komen Michigan programs, visit http://bit.ly/KomenMIGrants or call (616) 752-8262.