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National Spotlight

Financial Resources —Did you know that there are many financial resources that can help people living with breast cancer? Find out more

Voices of Impact™ — Join us here as we continue to share stories that celebrate the women and men who inspire us all.

Why I Ride!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

The Tocco Sister's Story

My twin sister Maria lost her battle with breast cancer on February 24, 2011.  I cannot put into words how much I miss her, and what she meant to me, not just as my best friend and twin, but as a mom, sister, daughter, wife, teacher, and friend to everyone who knew her.  Although we miss Maria more than words can describe - we smile and laugh with our many memories of her high spirited personality and quick wit.

How many families have suffered a similar loss and heart ache because of breast cancer?  How many women continue to battle this prevalent disease?

My oldest sister Rosalie, and my mother have also battled with breast cancer and I fully understand the risk this disease presents to my other sister Vinnie and I.  For this reason, we will be riding 60 miles in the Komen Mid-Michigan Ride for the Cure on Saturday, August 6th in Ann Arbor to raise money for breast cancer treatment, education, screening and research. 

We will do this ride with passion and love to honor our beloved sister Maria. 

THIS RIDE IS FOR YOU MARIA!!

Love, Rosalie & Toni


 

My Journey through Breast Cancer

By: Tracy  

 

My story begins in January of 1994 at age 33 with 3 daughters - ages 3, 7, and 8. 

I felt multiple small lumps – I wasn't really concerned but I did make a dr. appt. (FYI - I had just had my annual ob/gyn appt the previous Oct.).  I saw my doctor and he felt the lumps but given my age and the fact that I had, breastfed all 3 kids, never smoked, wasn't overweight and no MATERNAL history of breast cancer, he didn't feel there should be any concern.  

However, just to put my mind as ease he sent me in for a mammogram (there was a strong PATERNAL history with my father losing 3 sisters to breast cancer and we have since realized that it is not just maternal history that we need to watch).

So I went for my mammogram, I was very nervous but no one was worried.  That is until they took the picture and saw lots of little "specs of white paint" on my films.  I would later find out that these were microcalcifications and NOT a good sign.  

They immediately decided to do an ultrasound - although they were focusing on an area not where I felt the lump?  Weird huh?  Well, the microcalcifications were pointing to a different area of my teeny, tiny less than "A-cup" breast.  After the ultrasound the radiologist said to me “you need to see a surgeon as soon as possible, I don’t like what I see".  

So I met Dr. George Shaub at Riechert /St Joes' health Center.  He was very caring but straight forward.  He immediately told me that I needed a needle biopsy (outpatient surgery) because he was fairly certain that I might have breast cancer - the test would let us know for sure.  I was extremely shaken; I heard his words but couldn't grasp their meaning.  I knew that I had to suck it up and have the test, three days later I underwent the needle biopsy surgery.  

In the meantime, my sister left her own family in South Carolina and came up to be the rock of Gibraltar in ours.  To this day I can never thank her enough for that - she lived with us for 6 weeks and allowed my then husband and I to focus on me. On Valentine's Day 1994, Dr. Schaub called our house.  I remember knowing that because he was personally calling me that it couldn't be a good thing.  I can still hear his voice saying "It is breast cancer...", those are words that I will never forget.  Apparently the teeny, tiny breast had multiple suspicious lumps in it.  The one they had dissected was cancerous and over 3cm in size, which I later learned was really not a good thing.

 To be honest, I don't remember much after that.  We all went onto autopilot; family, friends, children, teachers, neighbors - we had an amazing support community.  They were all there for us cooking dinners, cleaning the house, cutting the grass, shuttling the kids – allowing me to focus on my health. 

The next few weeks were spent at St. Joe's - getting second opinions, meeting with plastic surgeons, donating blood for surgery - test after test, consultation after consultation, phone call after phone call.   This was all happening before the age of the Internet and one of my dearest friends (who holds a Masters in Library Science) spent the next two weeks researching and copying every article she could find for us so we could be educated about what was happening.

On, March 3, 1994, at the hands of two of the most capable, caring doctors in the St Joe's health system - Dr. George Schaub - my surgeon, and Dr. Paul Izenberg - my plastic surgeon - I underwent a radical mastectomy and the tram-flap reconstructive surgery.  This was an 8 hour surgery with a long recuperation period due to the associated abdominal surgery.  Five days later, on March 8th (my husband's birthday) while still recuperating in the hospital – I received the first bit of good news since my diagnosis; the lymph nodes that were removed during my surgery were negative and did not have any trace of cancer.  Yahoo!!  Finally something we wanted to hear.

We did soon learn, in my follow up appointments, that because my cancer was multi-focal and I have a slight build that my chest wall did not have a clear margin without cancer cells.  This worried my medical team.  After quite a few visits and opinions we decided that I would undergo chest wall radiation at the U of M hospital under the care of Dr. Lichter.  Again, I had another great set of caregivers and the 6 weeks of treatment flew by; although I was completely and utterly exhausted – I knew in my heart that I was lucky! Lucky…  Lucky…  Lucky!

Fast forward to the summer of 2009 - our entire family - me, my life partner Todd McNeilly and our four kids Jenny, 25; Kelly, 24; Amy, 20; Griffin, 13 all participate every year in the Detroit Race for The Cure.  The goal is to raise money and awareness for Susan G. Komen for the Cure - (and oh yeah, for the kids to beat me running the 5k.....as of yet they haven't!)  

Additionally, Todd & I are avid cyclists who spend the majority of our free time on the bike - both mountain and road cycling.  After completing my third 3-day walk for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Todd and I hatched a great plan.  Why not combine our passion for cycling and our passion for Komen into a really cool cycling event?  I had already raised over $10K myself through the various Races and 3-Day's; if I could raise money for Komen and be on a bike - how fun would that be?!And so, we approached the Mid-Michigan Affiliate of the Susan G Komen for the Cure and began planning the inaugural Komen Mid-Michigan Ride for the Cure. 

So today, with grown daughters and a teenage son (who I worry about each and every day) it is my hope that I never have to be their "rock of Gibraltar" while they battle breast cancer in their lives.  I never want them to have to tell their children - "Mommy, has breast cancer" "but it will be alright".  I never want them to go through what I went through.  I want to do everything I can to make sure they are luckier than I am!  And while they still haven't beat me on the bicycle or in the 5k Race they will be out there peddling in our Michigan Ride for the Cure!

Ride On!


Dianna's Story

 

I believe that the Mid-Michigan Susan G. Komen efforts are helping to make a big impact in the fight against breast cancer and feel it is important that we keep that effort moving forward.   I myself am a breast cancer survivor also and therefore, have all the more reason to help with these efforts.

In 2004 I was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer.  I am one of the luckier women who did not have an advanced stage of this cancer.  In 2003, my doctor had given me an order for a routine mammogram.  I kept putting it off and putting it off until it was almost too the point of my mammogram order expiring.  I finally went and had my mammo done and through that it was discovered that I had Stage 0 breast cancer.  I am so thankful that the Lord was watching out for me and that I finally had it done because if I would have waited another year, it probably would have been much more severe.  I was fortunate enough  to have only had to have a lymphectomy and 5 ½ weeks of radiation therapy.  I can today say that I have past my 5 year anniversary of being breast cancer free!

Too add to my story, I not only had the health risk of breast cancer but was also extremely overweight and had developed other poor health conditions those of which were high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.  In 2006, my family physician advised me that if I lost some weight that I could probably reverse some or all of my health issues and I also knew that being a breast cancer survivor being overweight kept me at a higher risk for redeveloping breast cancer.

So….my quest for a healthier life began.  I decided I needed to get serious about improving my health and that the first step was for me to begin moving more through exercise.  When I started I weighed 270 pounds.  I started out gradually exercising about 2-3 times a week.  I was making some progress but very slowly .  I became frustrated because I thought that since I was exercising regularly that I would see a difference with my health issues and I wasn’t.  My initial goal was to eliminate my health risks and then secondly to lose 100 pounds.

So…I decided I needed to work harder.  I increased the intensity of my workouts and worked my way up to working out 5 days a week.  I also started making healthier food choices.  Over the next four years I continually kept exercising more and more and developed a much healthier lifestyle of eating.  I finally reached a point where I was no longer diabetic, or had high blood pressure or high cholesterol.  I had also lost 130 pounds!

People in my life had noticed my transformation land knew what health issues I was working on eliminating and because of that, and to my surprise, I became an inspiration to many other women to take control of their own health.  When I talk with people about my weight loss journey to a healthier lifestyle, I always tell them two things.  One:  Consistency is the key – you need to make exercise a part of your daily/weekly schedule and Two:  Don’t pay a lot of attention to the scales but to how you feel.

Because I am bound and determined to not go back to my unhealthy lifestyle and to never be overweight again a healthy diet and exercise will always be part of my lifestyle.   To keep myself motivated, I put challenges before myself to help keep me moving forward in good health.  Because I have bad knees I am not able to run but I can walk and ride bike.  I have participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in years past and because I now do a lot of bike riding I decided to participate in the Ride for the Cure – 100 mile tour.  This presents a twofold benefit – the training for this ride keeps me moving and exercising and plus my effort will go towards a great cause of helping to eliminate breast cancer!

I am grateful to have many family and friends that have been very supportive in my efforts or the last few years.  I am also grateful that a recent career change has put me  in a place where I can continue to inspire and offer help to other women.  I now work at Elements Diet and Fitness which is an exercise club in Okemos for women only.

Because of the path I have traveled of going from poor health to being a strong healthy women, it has given me a strong understanding of other what other women are struggling with in unhealthy lifestyles.  I can share with them my story in an effort to inspire them and to be compassionate with them to help guide them on things they can do to become stronger and healthier.

Lastly, I have to say that some of the paths I have taken to get to this road of a healthier lifestyle would not have been paths I would have necessarily chosen.  But through God’s plan, my life circumstances led me on this journey and continues to push me forward and to be a part of making a difference in other women’s lives. 

Thanks for letting me share my story all in hopes that it will benefit and inspire someone else.


Kyle Dorcey  - Why I Ride

At 29 years old, you never imagine that someone your age, one of your peers, one of your great friends could be diagnosed with cancer. We are too young, right?! Well, unfortunately that became reality in March of 2011. Meghan, one of my bestest friends---we made it through the long grueling years of physical therapy grad school, graduated and got successful jobs as physical therapists, that was when we could persue a great passion together, photography. Paychecks were donated to equipment, classes, workshops and one glorious week in the Upper Peninsula photographing the fall colors.   

Meghan, one of the strongest people I know, was diagnosed with breast cancer, just 2 days after her 29th birthday...my gut reaction was to cry and of course say "its not fair", "she is too young" and every other cliche that you can think of. There were hugs, tears, a *LoveFest* to celebrate how much Meghan is loved before her first chemo treatment, events planned, tshirts made, phone calls, texts and emails exchanged. Meghan has now been through 7 chemo treatments and has 9 more to go, her strength and INCREDIBLE attitude are an inspiration to all that know her. I ride for Meghan...I now wear pink for Meghan (I NEVER wear pink)...and I raise money for breast cancer research, so there are less women that find out one of their best friend's has breast cancer. Go Meghan, Go! Lets Beat This Thing!


 

We would love to hear what has inspired you to Ride for the Cure!

 If you would lilke to share your story please email Pamela@komenmidmichigan.org

or call 517-886-4901 x 2.