Tuesday, October 16, 2012
To our readers,This is the third in aseries of f five specialpink editions publishedby the staffs of The Recordin Troy and The Sarato-gian in Saratoga Springsin honor of NationalBreast Cancer AwarenessMonth.The goal of each of these special sections,published on the fiveTuesdays in October, isto provide you with infor-mation about breast can-cer -- information that wehope will both inform youand inspire you.Some of you havealready sent along ideasor stories and informa-tion on fundraisingevents that you want us topublish in our NationalBreast Cancer AwarenessMonth special sections.We truly appreciate your suggestions and have -- or are -- following up onyour ideas. Please know, however,that we still welcome your story suggestions and weare happy to add any newactivities to our calendar of events.We are also happy topublish photos of your various events planned inhonor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Your information maybe sent to Editor LisaRobert Lewis via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or eel free to call her at 518-270-1276.
Why it’s important to find cancer early
The goal of screeningexams for early breastcancer detection is to findcancers before they startto cause symptoms.Screening refers to testsand exams used to find adisease, such as cancer, inpeople who do not haveany symptoms. Early detection means using anapproach that lets breastcancer get diagnosed ear-lier than otherwise mighthave occurred.Breast cancers that arefound because they arecausing symptoms tend tobe larger and are morelikely to have already spread beyond the breast.In contrast, breast can-cers found during screen-ing exams are more likely to be smaller and still con-fined to the breast. Thesize of a breast cancer andhow far it has spread aresome of the most impor-tant factors in predictingthe prognosis (outlook) of a woman with this disease.Most doctors feel thatearly detection tests for breast cancer save thou-sands of lives each year,and that many more livescould be saved if evenmore women and their health care providers took advantage of these tests.
-- American Cancer Society
In sickness and in health
Couple says support crucial to recovery from cancer
By Siobhan Connally
Inez Whitehead-Dick-ens and her husband,Mike, have twice facedbattles in their relation-ship. The enemy – bothtimes – was cancer. Nowthey prepare others forbattle.Since her recovery,Inez has counseled othercancer patients and theirfamilies through theAmerican Cancer Soci-ety's Race to Recoveryprogram. She's writtenhundreds of newspapercolumns, and has pub-lished a book, “CancerKickin’ Warrior,” that tellher story and the storiesof others fighting the dis-ease with an emphasison hope and healing.She was also a sourceof inspiration to her hus-band as he battledprostate cancer.“This is really her story,though,” laughs Mike,noting that it was Inez'sstrength and determina-tion to battle stage threebreast cancer in 2001that made his diagnosistwo years ago less fright-ening. “I'm just the sup-port.”“When I was diag-nosed, now it's almost 12years ago, all I knewabout cancer was thatyou have cancer, you die.That's what my mindsetwas.”“And I was devastated,”said Mike. “I didn't tell herthat at the time, but I thinkonce I realized she wasgoing to fight this, my jobbecame to support her.So then dying wasn'teven an option.”Together they dovehead first into her recov-ery.Inez called differentcancer organizationslooking for someone totalk to who had beenwhere she was standing,but was disappointed.'They sent me to peo-ple who were in stageone and stage two, and Idon't minimize any can-cer, but I was looking forthat ray of hope; some-one in advance stagewho was living.”She learned that it was-n't that they didn't exist, itwas just that they weresilent.“You know, Inez, peo-ple go through so muchwith treatment, it's notthat they're not alive it's just that they don't wantto talk about it. They wantto put it behind them. So Imade this little bet withGod that if he got methrough this I would talkabout it. He got methrough and I kept myend of it. I just wantedpeople to know justbecause you're diag-nosed in advance stageor going through a roughtime, cancer is not adeath sentence.”And keep her bargainshe did.“When I started writingthe column and gettingstories, there were peo-ple I was in awe of.Here were people withlung cancer and braincancer and they werealive and surviving andwell. And that amazedme. They gave me morehope and even moredetermination.”There were also sto-ries that shocked her.She wrote about onewoman who was diag-nosed with breast cancerand advised to get amastectomy but endedup getting a lumpectomybecause her husbanddidn't want her to be dis-figured. Six months laterit came back with avengeance so she had toget a mastectomy.“When she went forthat surgery he said 'Youknow, I work late so onthe day of the surgery I'm just going to drop you offand you call me when Ineed to pick you up'. Shedivorced him.”The Whitehead-Dick-ens' both believe supportis crucial to recovery.“Support each other100 percent. You haveto,” notes Inez. “If yourspouse doesn't supportthe procedure that youare recommended tohave I strongly suggestonce you get through ityou leave that person.”“Love goes beyond thephysical attraction,” Mikesays. “I mean there arepeople who don't wanttheir wives to get a mas-tectomy because why?They're in love with theirbreasts? I tell people
Photo by Mike McMahon
Cancer survivors Inez and Mike Whitehad - Dickens discuss how they both believe supportis crucial to recovery from cancer. Inez has written hundreds of columns on the subjectand recently published a book, “Cancer Kickin’ Warrior.”
“When I wasdiagnosed,now it'salmost 12 years ago, all I knew about cancer wasthat you havecancer, youdie. That'swhat mymindset was.”
Author andbreast cancersurvivor
Making Strides annual walk for teacher
By Kathryn Caggianelli
—Teachers, staff and students atDivision Street ElementarySchool recently donned pinkattire two Thursdays in a rowand dedicated proceeds fromseveral dress-down days inOctober in support of oneteacher’s campaign againstbreast cancer.Abbie Powers, 32, who teach-es first grade and has worked forthe Saratoga Springs CitySchool District for close to adecade, coordinates fundraisingefforts at the elementary schoolfor a team that walks in MakingStrides Against Breast Cancer— an annual cancer charity walkfounded in 1993 by the Ameri-can Cancer Society .Three years ago, Powers losther mother, Dorris Powers, tobreast cancer. The disease wasdiagnosed when it was transi-tioning from Stage 2 to Stage 3.Dorris was just 50 years old atthe time and spent the next 10years fighting to save her life.But eventually she succumbed.“I was in college when shewas diagnosed,” Powers said.“My sister, brother-in-law and Ihave done the walk each yearsince she was diagnosed. Wewanted to show our support forall women and men battling thisterrible disease, and especiallyto honor our mother.”Except for skin cancer, breastcancer is the most common can-cer found in American women,according to the American Can-cer Society (ACS). Approximate-ly one in eight women in theU.S., or 12 percent, will developinvasive breast cancer duringtheir lifetime. Other current sta-tistics from ACS likewise revealthat approximately 226,670 newcases of breast cancer in theU.S. will be diagnosed in womenand 63,300 new cases will bediagnosed in men. Sadly,approximately 39,510 womenwill die from breast cancer.Powers’ coworkers this yeardonated $500 in support of herteam, this year named “We HopeYou Dance.” Comprised of eightwalkers, including Powers, herfiancé, her fiance’s mother, hersister, her father, her brother-in-law and two nephews, this year’steam hopes to raise $2,000.They have already raised$1,485.“In the past 13 years we haveraised in excess of $15,000,”Powers said. “My personal goalis $800.”Powers’ peers were more thanhappy to offer their support,according to Dr. Greer Miller,Division Street ElementarySchool principal.“Abbie is a wonderful personand teacher. Her heart is alwaysin the right place,” Miller said.“We all went through the loss ofher mother with her. They are avery close family full of love foreach other. We support herbecause she is close to ourhearts.”When Powers requested thatseveral dress down days inOctober be devoted to raisingmoney for the Making StridesAgainst Breast Cancer Walkeach year Greer and her staffreadily agreed.“Breast cancer touches every-one,” she said. “We all haveacquaintances (family andfriends, too) and people withinthe school system that havebeen touched by it in some way.People give whatever amountthey want, whether it’s $1, $2 or$50.”Miller acknowledged the causeof cancer research as a worth-while one and said that eventhough great strides appear tohave been made in early detec-tion, diagnosis and treatmentthere is still more work to bedone.“It was only three years agothat Abbie lost her mother. Theodds of cancer survival may beimproving but we still hear sto-ries of people losing their battlewith cancer,” Miller said.“Breast cancer is a diseasethat can affect anyone,” Powerssaid. “My mother was very activeand led a healthy lifestyle. It isso important to perform self-breast exams and to see yourdoctor for annual physicals.”“From my personal experi-ence, this disease has taught menot to take anything for grantedand to appreciate each day wehave with the people we love,”she said.
Teacher walks in support of those battling breast cancer
DETAILS ABOUT THE WALK
This year’s Making StridesAgainst Breast Cancer walksteps off at noon Oct. 21 atWashington Park ParadeGrounds in Albany.Registration and activitiesbegin at 10 a.m.For more information go to
Photo by Erica Miller
Abbie Powers, 32, who teaches first grade at the Division Street Elemen-tary School in Saratoga Springs and who lost her mother to breast cancer,is coordinating fundraising efforts at her elementary school for a teamwalking in the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.
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