I have one pink blouse. Not just your standard tea-rose pink, but a shade closer to Pepto Bismol pink. In fact, when I wear it, I’m faintly aware that people may think I am being treated for fast relief of upset stomach, nausea, heartburn and indigestion due to overindulgence.
It serves me well during October, my machine washable pink blouse, because as El Paso Times readers know October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (Note to readers: When promoting October, please remember to include the word “Cancer” in the awareness moniker. I once stood confidently before a largely male group of Rotarians and announced that October was Breast Awareness Month! I was soundly reminded that breast awareness was certainly celebrated year-round!)
Over the past couple of decades, a great deal of money and other resources has been devoted to curing and treating breast cancer, as well as other forms of the disease. Progress has been made. Treatment options have grown. Yet breast cancer still affects one in eight women, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and is the second leading cause of death for women.
On the bright side, more and more women are surviving and thriving after breast cancer. During my time at the Rio Grande Cancer Foundation, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with some of the most remarkable women, who also happened to have had breast cancer.
Women like Kathleen Peyton, a two-time breast cancer survivor whose energy and zest for life is humbling. Try keeping up with her and Flo Buchmueller whose wit and one-liners would rival the comedian Joan Rivers.
Then there’s Maria Sanchez, who juggles work, constant travel and volunteering even with her full-time role as caregiver to her frail mother.
Celebrating eleven years as a survivor, Patricia Carter lives and breathes breast cancer each and every day in her role as Director of the Oncology and hospice programs at Providence Hospital. Her compassion and personal experience instill a deep sense of confidence and an extra layer of understanding in her patients.
Straight off the cover of an El Paso magazine, Kim Stull and Ladonna Apodaca are as glamourous inside as they are on the outside. Indeed true beauty shines in these remarkable women who have bravely and publicly shared their breast cancer journeys.
I believe that her breast cancer experience lends psychologist Elizabeth Richeson a level of understanding and compassion that provides extra healing for her patients. Her presentation on cancer recurrence titled “Been there, done that… don’t want to go there again” at our annual Cancer Conference receives high praise from the participants.
These are only a few of the hundreds El Paso women who have are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. And while there is progress, there is still much to do. So what can you do to help? Take a few minutes to study the issue from your perspective. Make appointments to get annual mammogram screenings and encourage others to do so. Make a charitable donation to your preferred cancer organization. Every little bit helps.
For my part, I’m going schedule my annual mammogram, send a check in honor of my friends to the Rio Grande Cancer Foundation and continue to surround myself with upbeat people who enhance my life.
And I’m going to buy another pink shirt.
-Patty Tiscareño is the Executive Director for the Rio Grande Cancer Foundation, the community’s only local non-profit support cancer patients and their families.
Call the Rio Grande Cancer Foundation (915) 562-7660 for more information. And make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.
What Cancer Cannot Do
Cancer is so limited | It cannot cripple love. | It cannot shatter hope. | It cannot corrode faith. | It cannot eat away peace. | It cannot destroy confidence. | It cannot kill friendship. | It cannot shut out memories. | It cannot silence courage. | It cannot reduce eternal life. | It cannot quench the Spirit