When most people think of Valentine’s Day, they think of things like hearts, flowers and candy—not a breast cancer diagnosis.However, for Cassy Stahl, February 14, 2007 began the start of her now seven-year survivorship of breast cancer.
Cassy, like many breast cancer patients, was shocked by her Stage 3 diagnosis given that she was in her early 40s with no family history, had breastfed all three of her children and regularly performed self-exams.Still, it was those self-exams that likely saved her life.She knew the persistent knot under her skin didn’t feel right and an ultrasound confirmed that it was lobular breast cancer.Just two weeks later, Cassy was pursuing treatment at MD Anderson while celebrating her 10-year wedding anniversary with husband Karl Lennart.They took a break from her treatment to spend some quality time together at a nearby aquarium and Cassy remembers wondering whether she’d live to see future anniversaries.
Thankfully, Cassy received tremendous care and maintained a positive attitude in her quest to become cancer-free.She says that while she’d never wish cancer on anyone, she is grateful for the ways it made her reevaluate life.At the time of her diagnosis, she had spent 25 years as an engineer in manufacturing firms.However, following her treatment, Cassy was reminded of how much people and relationships matter, and decided to pursue a career in real estate.She loves that she now has the opportunity to help clients find the homes where they’ll make memories.She also recently joined the sales team for Sabika, an NBCF sponsor, because the jewelry company’s mission of empowering the women who handcraft the product, as well as their commitment to breast cancer awareness, inspired her.While both of these jobs keep her quite busy, they allow her more flexibility in her schedule so she can remain involved with her family.
For Cassy, Valentine’s Day now represents another year spent loving those who mean the most to her, including kids Sophia, Linnea, and Stefan and she’s thankful for her husband’s continued commitment, noting that the stress of cancer can either drive couples apart or bring them closer together.She also says that she loves herself more today than her pre-cancer self because she values her strength and changed perspectives.
We wish Cassy, her family, and all our NBCF supporters and followers a day of hope and love this Valentine’s Day.
Since NBCF’s headquarters are located in Texas, we are very familiar with the phrase “Everything is Bigger in Texas.” This saying definitely holds true for one of our fundraising groups from Wimberley, TX. The Fancy Feathers 4H Club is a group dedicated to developing and empowering youth through agricultural activities.
Here at NBCF, we get a lot of interesting fundraising ideas sent to us, but this one really caught our attention. Their creative idea? The Fancy Feather group carries around a big, loud rooster and brings it to local offices in their community to make an appearance. Imagine a quiet work day, things going smoothly when all of a sudden teens walk in with an obnoxious farm animal. The only way for the business to get rid of the commotion is to make a donation to NBCF and choose the rooster’s next location to target! Jaci Kroupa, the club’s manager, says the businesses “generally get a big laugh out of it and then happily send the rooster to a competitor. They tend to talk about it for years after.”
In total, Fancy Feathers 4H Club donated over $1000 to NBCF with their Pass-A-Rooster Fundraiser in 2013, and they plan on hosting another rooster pass in 2014! This Texas-sized donation will help over 10 women obtain mammograms through our National Mammography Program.
It is the start of a new year and a perfect time to make a healthy change. How about changing your diet to make it healthier and anti-carcinogenic?According to WebMD, “Mounting evidence shows that the foods we eat weigh heavily in the war against cancer.”
What are carcinogens?
According to Melissa Breyer, the author of True Food, some of the top foods and drinks, which may increase your risk of cancer, include:
Charred or burnt foods
Alcohol in excess
One easy first step is to pick one or two items from this list to cut back on. Once that becomes natural, cut back on another. Small steps are more effective than taking on too much at once.
What are anticarcinogens?
Now that you know what to avoid, here are some of the top anti-carcinogenic foods that can help fight cancer.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts
Focus on swapping some of the first list for some of the second.Healthy foods may not be a cure for cancer, but they certainly aid in boosting your immunity and give your body a natural defense to disease.
Written by Jody Feil, NBCF Wellness Specialist *The views expressed in “Living Well with Jody” are Jody’s personal opinions based on her passion for healthy nutrition and fitness.
The shocking news that you have been diagnosed with breast cancer is just the beginning of the long road to recovery. A road full of potholes, detours, and traffic jams that make the journey seem never-ending. But what if you had an entire team of women surrounding you as you navigated the road ahead? CONGA and the Women Who Ride are that team.
CONGA began in 2008 with one woman, a motorcycle, and 3,300 miles of open road. Flo Fuhr had recently purchased a motorcycle in Florida and was on her way back home to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. As she began her journey, she encountered various women who donated a warm meal or a place to sleep. Some even joined her on a motorcycle, and it wasn’t before long that there was a conga line of motorcycles headed across the states. This parade of women was quickly recognized in each town as they passed through cities across the U.S. People would stop and ask them about their ride, and it was then that Flo had her brilliant idea: to ride for a cause. The man who taught Flo to ride as well as her sister had passed away from cancer, and through those losses, Flo recognized the importance of early detection in saving lives. So, during the last leg of her trip, she decided to dedicate her ride to breast cancer, raise awareness and donations, and to fight back through promoting early detection and research.
The ladies, excited about this idea, dressed themselves in pink and drove on. With their fun, positive attitude, pink costumes, boas, stickers, and helmets, it became almost impossible to not notice these amazing women. Their pit stops became opportunities to share their story, and the donations started flowing.
The first year was a success, with over $1,700 raised in a few short days. The decision to keep the conga line moving was an easy one, and CONGA II in 2009 raised $12,000. Since then, CONGA reconvenes each year where women and men ride to “kick cancer to the curb”. 2014 marked the seventh year of CONGA. In just the past two years, CONGA - Women Who Ride raised over $27,000 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation! That is more than 270 mammograms provided for women in need who otherwise may not have access to mammograms. It is thanks to the fearless women and men of CONGA that a new empowering road is being paved: One of hope and strength.
The Leadville Trail 100 mile bike race stretches across the Colorado Rockies and contains extreme terrain 9,200 feet above ground. Only 40% of its competitors finish. John Hansen (pictured left), one of the race’s participants, is riding to symbolize the challenges and hurdles that his sister, Re’Lynn, has overcome in her battle with Breast Cancer.
“John and his sister have always had a special relationship. They are very close and have always had an unconditional love for each other” says Julie Hansen, wife of John.
Re’Lynn explains where John’s passion for biking started:
“When we were younger, we competed in a bike race together. I was 16 and he was 12. We started before the sun came up and did not finish until it went down! John continued biking as he grew older. Our whole family has always been active together like this.”
When Re’Lynn was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in November of 2012, John turned his bike training into a way to honor and raise money for Re’Lynn’s passions: Breast Cancer Awareness and Early Detection. His goal: $20,000! And with only a month left until the race, he is not far from reaching it. John and Re’Lynn’s reactions are pure astonishment.
“Re’Lynn was most touched by the how responsive people were to the cause. She always felt as if people didn’t want to speak about their cancer. The many generous donations have caused her to feel hope.” John said. Re’Lynn then comments: “I believe in the kindness of humanity. This outpouring of love is amazing.”
Currently, John is with his training group, Vision Quest, in Colorado preparing for the race. He has donated $5000 of his own, and is matching all donations up to $10,000. Re’Lynn is almost done with her chemotherapy and surgeries and is ready to cheer her brother on in his personal battle for a cause!
Mush for a Cure Brings A Unique Twist to Fundraising
It’s not very often you see a dog-sledding fundraiser for breast cancer. Much less one that has dogs in pink tu-tus! But that’s just the way the Mush for the Cure fundraiser does things. Mush for the Cure has been fundraising for the National Breast Cancer Foundation every year since 2007. From humble beginnings with a mere four participants, the race has grown to host over 50 participants, raising tens of thousands of dollars to further the NBCF mission of providing early detection services for women in need.
Jack, Dan, John and Roger were planning a serious road trip. Multiple states. Cross-country, even. Then they thought, with all this effort going into the road trip, why not have it benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation?
The Name: Rollin’ 4 Cancer
The Mission: One limo, 2 weeks, 4 guys, 6 states, 12 cities, 5000 miles to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
The Journey: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana.
The Destination: The Super Bowl!
But wait, they don’t have tickets. Why would four guys drive across the country to the city where the Super Bowl is being hosted and not actually go to the Super Bowl? Because with their decked-out limo and charismatic demeanors, that was the best place to raise funds and awareness - in front of an audience of thousands.
Along the way, they’ve gained the attention of the press, spoken on radio shows, and even started a Facebook page to chronicle their journey.
In Memory of Sue, The Grand Dame of Badger & Blade
Sue crafted homemade soaps and received an unusual request from a friend to create a men’s shave soap one day. That single request resulted in her launching her own company of homemade shave soaps and scents, Saint Charles Shave. She joined the online community, Badger and Blade (B&B), to chat with others about shaving products, and soon became a strong voice in the community, gaining the support and friendship of many.
Sue was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2010. Because of her close ties to the B&B community, she posted about her illness soon after her diagnosis.
Take a Deep Breath & Then Walk Into the Fire
That’s what he did. My dad shaped my life. He instilled his values, compassion and most of all his courage. As a career firefighter he chose to willingly go into burning buldings.
The previous week began with being put to the test. Can I walk a firery cancer road and walk back out?
Last Monday morning (2/15), I found the dreaded lump. It wasn’t there Sunday. A classic symptom for IBC, a lump that seemingly appears overnight. It doesn’t show up early on mammogram but that’s another subject.
The next morning, I was in the office of my internest. From his office I was sent for a mammogram and then a ultrasound.
Wednesday was numerous phone calls.
Thursday more doctor appointments and testing. Result: Wait for the entire weekend.
It was the longest weekend I can remember. Even with the love and support of my adult children, brothers, family and friends that are also my family, the minutes ticked by slowly like hours.
That I was alone beat me up worse than if someone had taken a 2x4 or baseball bat and beat me with it. I spent the weekend keeping as busy as I could in my shop, doing what I love, making product.
With the long weekend wait behind me, my doctor called with the results of the breast/lymph node biopsies: positive for malignancy.
Today was a full body bone scan with contrast and a full body CT also with contrast to look for involvement elsewhere.
This Thursday afternooon, I will know the remainer of the treatment plan which now includes mastectomy and removal of at least 4 lymph nodes.
Chemo, radiation, either one or both, are still undecided until full results of the above and two other test relults are known.
How am I doing? I am still reeling, my mind running redline rpm’s. I think often I wish I could cry in the arms of my husband. I’m not a wimp, I can do this; I tell myself. My faith is strong as ever. I will wake up tomorrow and take on the day. I will take each day as it comes and I will deal with it, one step at a time.
I regret the emotional pain this is causing in those that love me. I hope those that I love, know the depth of the love I have for them.
There are some that I love that I am unable to tell them for fear of being inappropriate. I hope they know how much they mean to me, and yes, love.
I pray that I will keep my faith and courage strong. In my mind and heart, I am holding both the hand of God in one hand and my dad’s hand in the other.
The B&B community responded with hundreds of comments in support of Sue. She and her daughter posted updates of her progress as she went through treatment.
On November 2, Sue passed away. But her spirit will forever live on in the B&B community. As one B&B member stated, “Badger and Blade will not be the same when our grand dame takes her final bow, but she will not be forgotten. Not by me nor by many gents who’ve had the privilege of knowing Sue.”
5-Year Breast Cancer Survivor Runs Half Marathon for NBCF
In 2007, Alison was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Hearing the words, you have cancer is super scary, your life changes in an instant. With the huge support from my family, friends, colleagues, and my rock of a husband – Sam, I got through the most challenging nine months of my life. I was fortunate enough to be able to continue work, which gave me some kind of normality. I lost my hair and eyebrows, which was an experience in itself.
This year, Alison celebrates her fifth year as a breast cancer survivor and being cancer-free. And she decided to celebrate in an unusual way - she signed up for the Pennsylvania half-marathon on October 21st and raised funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
With her two best friends by her side, she completed the half marathon and was able to help raise awareness for breast cancer and exceeded her fundraising goal! That’s a lot of accomplishments to celebrate!
We first joined forces with Convoy of Hope last May, with our first event appropriately occurring in our home city of Dallas, Texas. Since then, we have joined Convoy of Hope for outreaches in eight other cities across the country to bring breast health services to underserved women in local communities. Through each of these outreaches, we were amazed by the volunteers who served so passionately, touched by the stories of the women we were serving, and empowered by the need that was so apparent for the services we were providing.
One of the guests that stopped by our tent, Sherylynn, had been putting off getting a mammogram because she was scared to go to the doctor’s office. She pre-qualified for a free mammogram through our partner breast health facility that day.
Through these outreaches, we offered free educational materials, signed women up to receive early detection text reminders, showed women how to do breast self-exams, pre-qualified women for free mammograms through our partner breast health facilities and, in some locations, provided free mammograms through our facility partners’ mammovans.
“I’m a single mom and needed to get groceries. I didn’t realize the NBCF tent was going to be here. I just signed up to receive qualification for a mammogram. This will help me so much. I am overwhelmed by how much is here, not just for my kids but also for me!”
- Crystal, Convoy of Hope guest
Here’s a look at our 2012 Convoy of Hope outreaches by the numbers:
5,157 guests served
442 pre-qualified for free mammograms through our partner breast health facilities
42 screening mammograms on-site
3,475 signed up for the NBCF early detection plan to receive text reminders
3,313 received training on how to do a breast self exam
18,010 educational materials distributed
Thank you for helping us serve these women in partnership with Convoy of Hope this year! We are looking forward to our next outreach in 2013!