brave hearts - Daily Journal



brave hearts - Daily Journal
Brave Hearts
Knowing the
Having a partner
in the fight
‘I had no control. I
had to trust God.’
Getting back
to normal
From the editor
o one faces down breast cancer alone.
Tanya Hawkins knows that. So does
Kelly Burton. And Jean Bowe. And
Jennifer Ebeyer. And so do all of the
women who so graciously and courageously opened up their lives for our
breast cancer awareness initiative.
Each and every one of them has come to understand
that walking by their side through the dark and the
light, through the fear and the hope, through the setbacks and triumphs, through the tears and the laughter, is an army of Brave Hearts.
There’s Danny Hawkins, who didn’t blink when his wife
Tanya Hawkins decided to have her breasts removed.
“The breast part, that didn’t matter to me,” he said.
“Some guys might handle it different.”
There’s Travis Burton, who would not stand for his
mom being bald alone. In solidarity, off went his hair.
“I was trying to do what I could for her,” he said.
Heeding a warning
Banking on a cure
Fighting together
Keeping it real
There’s Dr. Anna Maria Storniolo, who is caring for
and drawing strength from Bowe. “If and when the
time comes, she (Jean) will leave with no regrets. It’s
patients like Jean who, on a daily basis, teach me how
to live my life.”
There’s Kristen Schwark, who climbed into bed with
Ebeyer. “I got to be her big sister again,” Schwark said.
“I just let her cry on me.”
This year, we made an extra effort to tell the stories of
not just the women with breast cancer but of the people who trudged through the slog of the disease with
them. Husbands. Sons. Daughters. Moms. Dads. Sisters.
Brothers. Doctors. Nurses. Caregivers. Co-workers.
Friends. Neighbors. Strangers. You.
Yes, you.
You, too, are no doubt one of them. Anymore, there’s
hardly anyone who has not been touched by a cancer
that kills one person every 14 minutes.
In our stories, you’ll find the language of breast cancer
— invasive ductal carcinoma, estrogen receptor positive, HER-2 positive. But these stories are about much
more than a disease. They are about the resiliency of
the human spirit.
Once again, they let you in on their darkest hours. The
moment in the still of the night when a woman wondered if her children would grow up without a mom.
The moment when a woman took a deep breath, looked
in the mirror and saw only scars where her breasts
had been. The moment when a woman learned the cancer had spread beyond her breasts.
But they also show you how light overtakes darkness.
The moment when a woman knew God and her faith
were stronger than any disease. The moment when a
woman dressed in pink got up and marched around her
neighborhood with Grubby the dog, a cancer whisperer.
The moment when a woman heard her husband tell her
she was the most beautiful woman in the world even
if she was bald and sick. The moment when a woman
thought cancer just might be a blessing that taught her
the most important of life’s lessons.
Norma Newton learned “to trust God, how many
friends I have and how much love there is out there.”
Cancer humbled Nicole Kent. “It’s made me appreciate
people a lot more. It definitely has changed my life for
the better,” she said.
And Virginia Petro has come out the other side “stronger,
more aware of religion and what is truly important. I lost
my hair: that’s not important. Being here with my friends
and family and kids is important. If it’s a beautiful day
outside, I’m not going to worry about whether it’s too hot.
I’m just glad I have that day.”
We are grateful to everyone who opened up and so honestly shared their stories. We were inspired by their
Brave Hearts. You will be, too.
— Scarlett Syse, editor
Finding guidance through faith ...................................................C4
“I did what I had to do”................................................................C7
A family tragedy ..........................................................................D2
Getting back to normal ................................................................D3
Mother, daughter win battle with disease.....................................D5
Dealing with loss.........................................................................D6
A group effort ..............................................................................D7
“I had no control” ........................................................................ E1
Determined to make it ................................................................. E3
Path to treatment ......................................................................... E4
Beating the odds ......................................................................... F1
“The fight of your life” ................................................................. F2
“Make every day count” .............................................................. F4
Who gets breast cancer? .............................................................G2
Finding inspiration ......................................................................H1
On the cover: Photo illustration by Scott Roberson
On behalf of
Suncatcher Tanning, our staff,
family & clients proudly support
Breast Cancer Awareness!
Deorcaleollo Tersona l amif cSeruice
197 East Jefferson St.
Our family, 346.6155
supporting yours,
in the fight 729 North Hwy U.S. 31
against cancer. 535.6880
w w
4 4 .
Be sure to ask about our UV FREE SPRAY TAN!
333 E. JEFFERSON ST. • FRANKLIN, IN 46131 • 317-736-8909
Store Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-9pm • Saturday 9am-6pm • Sunday 12 Noon-6pm
Finding out
Family members comfort each other
he women sat on the porch, neither fully understanding why this was happening.
Hunter-Smith’s chemo began Oct. 9 and went through March.
Kim Hunter-Smith’s porch had been used by her
The treatments were in downtown Indianapolis, near where
and her sister-in-law Lottie Wathen before for all
Wathen works as a paralegal. She visited Hunter-Smith during
kinds of talks, mainly about their boys’ high school
the treatments and occasionally drove her home. Wathen also
football games.
stocked Hunter-Smith’s refrigerator to make
But on July 28, 2009, the pair met because
sure she and the kids had food they could throw
they needed to know how they were going to
in the oven or crock pot.
Hunter-Smith tried to make life as normal as
Earlier that day, Hunter-Smith and
she could for her children, who helped around
Wathen, both now 48, had been diagnosed
the house with laundry and cooking. But life
with breast cancer.
became strained between her and Tracy, and
They tried to get past the shock of the
the two now are separated.
diagnoses. They talked about which doctors
Hunter-Smith’s marital problems had no
they might use and what treatments they
on her bond with Wathen.
were considering.
“I told her that she and I are sisters. No
The pair also made a pledge. Neither one
matter what happens between her and my
knew why they were sick, but they decided
brother, she and I are sisters,” Wathen said.
there was a reason they were diagnosed
In March, as Hunter-Smith was ending chesimultaneously, possibly eventually to share
motherapy and preparing for 37 rounds of raditheir stories or to talk to women about the
ation, Wathen received two silicone gel
importance of breast health. They also decidimplants as part of her reconstruction. A month
ed that whatever happened they would be
after the reconstruction Wathen was in the
there for each other and because of that
shower when the right incision opened up,
everything would be OK.
completely exposing the implant.
“I told her if she needed me, no matter the
Wathen went to the emergency room and was
hour, that she was to call me,” Wathen said.
rushed into surgery. Her plastic surgeon sterilHunter-Smith told Wathen the same.
ized and replaced the implant, and she was
As the shock of the diagnosis wore off,
Kim Hunter-Smith
kept in the hospital for two days and given
Wathen, whose tumor was discovered during
antibiotics to avoid an infection.
a routine mammogram, began to question
Wathen had two revision surgeries in August
the timing. In her mid-40s with two older
and November 2010 to create internal slings for
children, Stephanie and Aaron Knue, now 24
her new breasts and to create new nipples, but
and 19, she was supposed to be enjoying time
they didn’t go well. Only one of the slings was
with Phillip, her husband of 15 years.
put in and it has since failed, and the surgery to
She also felt guilty that her diagnosis wasn’t as serious as
use ties and stitches to create nipples out of Wathen’s skin
Hunter-Smith’s. Wathen’s cancer was less aggressive and
didn’t work.
required only surgery, while Hunter-Smith would have to underNow, when Wathen looks down, what she sees is lopsided and
go a lumpectomy to remove the tumor followed by chemotheramisshapen. She needs additional surgery to complete the reconpy and radiation.
struction, but she decided to take a break this year.
Hunter-Smith, who found her tumor during a self-exam,
The surgeries were exhausting physically and emotionally.
received second opinions after the diagnosis. Her biggest worry
Every time she prepared to go under anesthesia, it was as though
was for her children, Patrick, now 17, and Mallory, now 14, as
the cancer had returned, she said. And while she has insurance,
well as her husband of 20 years, Howard Tracy. Tracy is Lottie
her current out-of-pocket expenses are around $30,000.
Wathen’s brother.
“My concern was for my kids. I just wanted to know that I
was going to be able to beat this,” Hunter-Smith said. “There
Wathen’s husband has told her not to worry about her appearwas just no other option. I had to beat this.”
ance, but men don’t understand what she’s going through, not
Wathen was given three treatment options: A lumpectomy,
even her plastic surgeon, she said. He told her that the imporfollowed by radiation and five years of hormone therapy; a
tant thing is that the cancer is gone, and that no one can tell
complete mastectomy on the cancerous breast followed by five
anything different with her clothes on.
years of hormone therapy; or a double mastectomy without
“I’m the only one who knows how it feels when I look in the
radiation or hormone therapy.
mirror or when I look down in the shower and I see a constant
She also underwent genetic testing before surgery to assess
reminder of what, one, what used to be, and two, everything
her risk of the cancer reoccurring. The test showed there was
that I’ve been through,” she said.
an 85 percent chance that the cancer could return, and she
The ongoing battle to look normal now has Wathen fighting
chose the double mastectomy.
depression. She didn’t notice it at first in part because when she
As their surgeries approached, the women shared their fears
was going through treatment and looking out for Hunter-Smith she
with each other.
simply didn’t have time to feel down. But now she feels apathetic,
doesn’t feel motivated for activities like exercise or taking walks,
Hunter-Smith was worried about chemotherapy, whether her
hair would fall out and how she would react to treatment.
and she doesn’t spend as much time with friends.
Wathen tried to be pragmatic about her situation. She was
But Hunter-Smith understands. When Wathen begins to fall,
done having children and was beyond breast-feeding. By remov- when the reconstruction issues begin to wear her down, when
ing both breasts, she was taking a preventive measure to help
she worries about passing cancer-causing genes on to her kids
ensure the cancer wouldn’t return. But she was concerned
or when she worries about whether people will see her as ugly
about how she would look and feel after surgery.
or beautiful, Hunter-Smith talks her through it.
The women each got haircuts before surgery. Wathen
Hunter-Smith completed her radiation treatment in June. She
wouldn’t be able to lift her arms after the mastectomy and
sees her oncologist every six months but has been cancer free
would need a style that was manageable, and Hunter-Smith
since then.
knew her hair would fall out from the chemotherapy that would
Wathen knows she has more surgery ahead of her next year,
but the procedure and date haven’t been set. What she does
know is Hunter-Smith will be there for her when it’s time.
Both women had surgery in September 2009. Hunter-Smith
“We were sisters-in-law before. And we were close. But I
had a lumpectomy Sept. 4, and Wathen’s double mastectomy
would say we are sisters now,” Hunter-Smith said.
was Sept. 30.
‘She and I are sisters’
My concern
was for my
kids. I just
wanted to know
that I was
going to be
able to beat
this. There was
just no other
option. I had to
beat this.
‘A constant reminder’
Kim Hunter-Smith
July 28, 2009, with Stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma
Lumpectomy, six months of chemotherapy, 37
radiation treatments
What cancer taught me
People survive. Cancer is not always a death sentence,
and you can have quality of life while you’re going through
your treatments and afterward, and your life is going to
change. But in my experience it’s been a better life.
How cancer changed me
It’s made things a lot clearer. I’ve been able to get rid of
things that weren’t important. I know what’s important
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
There’s a lot of help out there. Get hooked up, align yourself with people that have been through it. You can have
quality of life and go through this.
Lottie Wathen
July 28, 2009, with intraductal carcinoma
Double mastectomy
What cancer taught me
Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care who you are or
where you are in your life. Everybody is susceptible.
How cancer changed me
I think it’s still changing me. I don’t think that I’m completely changed yet.
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
Keep a positive attitude. Keep putting one foot in front of
the other, deal with each battle as it comes and don’t
worry about the battle that’s down the road. Talk to someone who has been through it. No matter what you’ve read,
it doesn’t have the personal touch of speaking with someone who’s dealt with it.
Pictured: Breast cancer survivors Kim Hunter-Smith, left,
and Lottie Wathen were diagnosed on the same day.
Retired teacher listened to little voice inside
little voice told Center
Grove area resident
Norma Newton every
night for a few months
that she needed to go in
for a mammogram.
Newton felt healthy. She felt for
lumps but found nothing.
But she believed the Holy Spirit was
talking to her, the way it had when
telling her to slow down years earlier
while driving her sisters on a rainslickened highway in Tennessee. They
narrowly avoided an accident that day.
Eight years ago, Newton knew she
needed to again listen to that persistent voice in her head.
She arranged to have a mammogram
as soon as she got back from Florida,
where she and her husband were staying at their winter home.
She didn’t want to see a doctor she
didn’t know in Florida and called to set
up an appointment with her family
doctor days after she got back to Indiana.
Newton, a retired Indian Creek High
School health teacher, had gotten her
annual mammogram every July since
she turned 40. But she decided to go in
April that year.
The office called back a few days
later to tell her that her mammogram
had detected something and she needed to come in right away. Newton
underwent a biopsy.
She had a fast-growing type of estrogen-fed breast cancer. The test caught
the cancer before it spread.
Newton already knew the treatment
option she wanted: a double mastectomy.
She could have gotten a lumpectomy
or a single mastectomy. But she wanted to have both breasts removed
because she didn’t want to worry about
the cancer coming back.
Newton knew from her teaching days
there was no better way to ensure that
the cancer would be gone for good.
Her doctor cemented her opinion.
Newton asked her doctor what she
would do and was told a double mastectomy was the best option.
The cancer was in an early stage.
Newton needed just the surgery and
not radiation or chemotherapy.
“I feel very fortunate that it was
caught when it was,” she said. “I could
get the surgery and be over and done
with it.”
Her husband, Gene Newton, wasn’t
so sure.
“I didn’t know if she’d need more
treatment or what would happen,” he
said. “It was scary.”
He still gets nervous every time she
goes in for a checkup. He fears the
cancer could come back or spread to
another part of her body.
“I might be a worrywart,” he said.
“But I get concerned.”
Doctors have assured Norma Newton
that there’s little chance of the cancer
recurring, since it was caught before it
spread to the lymph nodes. They told
her the surgery worked.
She believed all along that she would
beat it. Inside her favorite pair of
sneakers, she wrote that cancer
wouldn’t tread on her. She also looked
to Scripture for guidance.
Her faith kept her from getting worried when she went in for her surgery
Norma Newton
Center Grove area
April 2003
Double mastectomy
What cancer taught me
To trust God, how many friends I
have and how much love there is
out there.
How cancer changed me
It brought me closer to my family
and my husband, who was wonderful. I know many times the husband will just walk away, but he
was there every step of the way. He
was great, a godsend.
What I would tell someone
just diagnosed with cancer
I would tell them to find the best
doctor they could, to pray to God
because he was my strength
through all of this. He works in
mysterious ways to makes things
happen that are right for you.
at Community Hospital South in Indianapolis. She believed she was bound for
a better place if the procedure went
wrong or failed to excise the cancer.
“I know where I’m going,” she said.
“I’ve read the book many times, and I
know how it ends.”
But she was concerned with how her
family would miss her if she were gone.
Her family had taken the news of her
cancer hard. Her husband and two
daughters were stunned silent when they
accompanied her to her first doctor’s
appointment after the diagnosis.
“I don’t think that anyone said anything,” she said.
Her husband went with her to every
doctor’s appointment. Her daughters
prayed with her.
Newton spent more time praying
herself, often an hour or an hour and a
half a night.
“You spend more time talking to the
Lord,” she said. “You know that he’s
there for you during something like
that, that he’s your friend.”
She felt her relationship with God
deepen. She trusted that God would
take care of her, regardless of what
“I put myself in the Lord’s hands,”
she said. “I felt a sense of peace.”
Newton also felt confident because of
the treatment she chose to pursue. She
knew there would be little chance of
recurrence if she had both breasts
She decided to have them reconstructed immediately after the double
Breast Cancer
Pictured: Breast cancer survivor
Norma Newton with the tennis
shoes in which she wrote a message to herself: Cancer wouldn’t
tread on her.
Each day comes
bearing its own gifts.
Untie the ribbons.
- Ruth Ann Schabacker
If you’re age 40 or older,
join the millions of women who get
mammograms on a regular basis.
mastectomy, something she was reluctant to do at first. Newton figured she
was too old for it to make a difference.
But her daughters talked her into it.
She felt the reconstruction helped her
adjust to losing both her breasts.
Getting used to it still wasn’t easy.
Newton went through countless bras
until she finally found a brand that
She ended up buying 15 of them.
Newton feared the manufacturer would
stop making the bra.
Her new implants felt odd for about
six months.
She hasn’t suffered any long-term
health effects, and her treatment didn’t
take any toll on the family finances.
Newton had bought a cancer insurance
policy about three years before she was
diagnosed. She believes God guided her
to buy the policy and to renew it when
she had considered dropping it.
She thinks God wanted her to have
cancer for a reason: to provide comfort
to others who suffer from the disease.
Newton has since offered guidance to
women in her church who have been
diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s
told them what they can expect and
reassured them that they can survive.
“I believe things happen for a reason,” she said. “I feel like God used me
to help other people and support them.
When I was diagnosed, I wanted to talk
to survivors to find out everything I
could because there’s just so much
Assisted Living &
Alzheimer Memory Care
75 S. Milford Drive • Franklin, IN 46131 • (317) 736-4665
259 S. Meridian
zr odo an St.
St. •° Greenwood
G reenwood
oP: 881-9300
• F: 488-2528
wA Aw
T, e also
also specialize
specialize in
in meat
meat processing
processing and
and sell
se00 meat
meat by
by the
the pound.
pound .
‘I was just in
Community rallied around young mother
octors prescribed Franklin resident Robin Swigert
had inflammatory cancer. She was convinced she would die and
antibiotics after she found a large lump while
leave her young children alone.
Her doctor had a different opinion. She told Swigert that she
They believed it was inflammation from an infec- needed to focus on her treatment and that it would make her
tion that would go away.
But the swelling never went down. Swigert took
She advised Swigert not to go on the Internet again, because it
antibiotics for weeks, went in for tests and then went back on
would just discourage her and make her nervous.
The Stage 3 cancer was so advanced and so aggressive that
A second round of tests found that Swigert had a tumor that
Swigert had to immediately start chemotherapy. She could not
was cancerous, and aggressively so.
get a lumpectomy on the infected breast, because it wouldn’t be
Neither Swigert nor her doctors thought it was possible. She
was a 33-year-old woman who still was nursing her son.
First, doctors needed to shrink the tumor and get the cancer
The mother of two young sons worried about how she would
under control.
explain her illness to them. She fretted over who would take care
A surgeon cut a hole in her side to create a port through which
of Ezekiel and Caleb while she got treatment. She feared they
the cocktail of drugs would flow. But her lung suffered a tiny
would grow up without a mother.
puncture in the process.
She’s since undergone chemotherapy, a
Swigert wheezed and was short of breath for
double mastectomy and radiation treatments
the next week, and she called her doctor when
that caused her skin to redden and flay. Docshe started getting a sharp pain every time she
tors have advised her that there’s little chance
drew breath. The area near her shoulder blade
of the cancer coming back after the treatment
throbbed, and she felt a knifing pain when she
she received.
Follow-up tests haven’t shown any signs of
She described those symptoms to her doctor
the disease. Swigert hopes to dance at her
over the phone. Her doctor told her to immedisons’ weddings.
ately go to the emergency room.
She decided to get a double mastectomy
Her right lung had collapsed.
because she wanted to eliminate any chance of
“I thought I was going to die,” she said. “I
the cancer flaring up again. Her decision was
didn’t know what to expect, but I thought I was
cemented after an MRI showed that her other
going to die. I didn’t know you could survive a
breast could be infected and that a biopsy
collapsed lung.”
would be needed to confirm.
Her parents were home at the time, and they
Robin Swigert
“I said I wasn’t doing any more biopsies,”
drove her to the Community Hospital South in
she said. “I was 90 percent sure at that point
Indianapolis. Her mother called Michael
that I was going to get a bilateral mastectomy
Swigert, who was teaching school in Shelby
anyway. The more people I talked to, the more
people recommended it. My feeling was why wouldn’t I do that,
She told him his wife was in the hospital, and that he needed to
because it takes away a huge percentage of it ever coming back.”
get there as soon as he could. Michael Swigert sped off on the icy
She was nursing her then-1-year-old son Caleb when she first
back-country roads toward Johnson County and slid into a ditch.
found the 8-centimeter-wide lump.
The crash left him with a flat tire, but he had a pump in his
“Cancer never even crossed my mind,” she said. “I was a
young mother breast-feeding, so I thought it had to be related to
He made it back home with the patched tire and took her car
to the hospital.
Her OB/GYN agreed. She prescribed her an antibiotic but
“I was getting more and more panicked,” he said. “I didn’t
know what happened, and if she’d be OK.”
became concerned when it didn’t work.
Doctors had inserted a tube into her chest cavity and sucked
Swigert’s doctor told her she needed a mammogram. She was
out all the air, relieving the pressure on her lung. She had to
spend four days in the hospital.
“It was devastating,” she said. “I was just in shock.”
Anxiety seized her. She was in constant pain and couldn’t
She was so frazzled that she locked her keys in her vehicle
when she stopped by a pharmacy on her way home. She called
“I had tubes coming out everywhere, for the port and the lung,”
her mother, Sally Craig, to pick her up and blurted out that she
she said. “I couldn’t turn on my side at all.”
had to get a mammogram.
Before she was released, doctors told her the ruptured lung
Her mother wanted to know the whole story then, but she just
meant she couldn’t lift anything heavy. She couldn’t hold her
wanted to go home.
1-year-old son.
“I was freaking out,” she said. “Locking my keys in the car just
Quality time with her children got even harder after chemomade me more freaked out because everything was going wrong.
therapy started. For days at a time, she slumped on a couch or
It was such a terrible day.”
lied on the floor in the living room.
Michael Swigert, her husband, tried to take an analytical
At first, her sons thought she was playing like their father, who
approach when he learned of the mammogram that evening. He
often wrestled with them on the living room floor. But the
wanted to make sure that they found out everything they could
Swigerts explained that she was sick and couldn’t play the way
from the doctor and did what was needed to fix the problem.
she used to.
Doctors did not determine that Swigert had breast cancer until
“On days where I looked really ill, they knew to give me
she had a second mammogram and biopsy. She found out she
space,” she said. “But some days, I’d have to remind them.”
had the disease on a Friday but wasn’t able to see her doctor
Caleb was too young to know what was going on, but Ezekiel
until Monday to discuss what the treatment options would be.
was old enough to understand his mother was sick. He asked
Swigert spent the weekend doing research online about breast
Michael Swigert one day if she was going to die.
cancer. She knew little about it and wanted to be better
“That took me completely off-guard,” he said. “I wasn’t ready
“At my age, it wasn’t even on my radar,” she said. “They don’t
They explained that she had cancer and would get better.
even recommend you get mammograms at my age, so it wasn’t
Swigert was afraid that her struggle with cancer would inflict
something I considered.”
psychological damage on her children, but they handled it well.
What she read on the Internet scared her. A majority of the
A pressing problem was how to take care of them when Swigert
posts she came across on forums were negative.
lacked the energy to get up. They arranged to have family
She learned that inflammatory breast cancer was the worst
type to get. That type of cancer has a 40 percent survival rate.
Fear came over her when her doctor told her Monday that she
It had been
such a
whirlwind, but
it made us
appreciate our
time together
Robin Swigert
January 2010
Chemotherapy, double mastectomy,
What cancer taught me
It taught me to always rely on myself.
How cancer changed me
I appreciate small things. Small things are
what make me happiest, like being with my
boys and husband.
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
It will get easier. The first few weeks are the
worst. Once you have your treatment plan, it
gets a little easier to handle.
Pictured: Breast cancer survivor Robin
Swigert with husband, Michael, and sons
Ezekiel, 6, and Caleb, 2, in their Franklin
‘I’m not going
out like that’
Family works together to help mom recover
or more than two years, a
Greenwood woman convinced herself that the lump
in her breast was something
other than cancer.
She told herself that her
glands were swollen from drinking too
much soda. Or the lump was a cyst, just
like one her mother had.
Even though her grandmother had
breast cancer and her mother-in-law died
of cancer, Kelly Burton told herself she
didn’t have it.
She was busy taking care of her ailing
father-in-law. And she hated going to the
doctor and being in hospitals.
When she finally had a mammogram,
the doctor was honest with her. The doctor showed her a picture of a black shadow in her breast that appeared to be
Burton broke down in tears.
She was convinced she would die. She
had seen her mother-in-law die years
earlier after her cancer spread to other
parts of her body because it wasn’t
caught early enough.
Now, after seven years of clear mammograms, Burton has advice for others: If
you feel a lump or something that isn’t
right, don’t ignore it.
That’s the same advice Burton, 47,
gives her 23-year-old daughter, Velia
Burton, since doctors have said her family history puts her at a higher risk to get
breast cancer.
“I tell her to do self-exams, and if you
feel it, don’t let it go,” Kelly Burton said.
“I played mine off that it was something
else, but it wasn’t. I was in denial that it
could be cancer.”
Kelly Burton
October 2003
Lumpectomy, four rounds of
chemotherapy and radiation
What cancer taught me
Cancer has no age limit. And it affects
women and men, which I hadn’t
thought about before.
How cancer changed me
I live life to the fullest and don’t
waste a day. I see my grandkids
every day I can. I have a new goal to
go to Las Vegas. I also want to lose
weight so I can play with my grandkids. I see the big picture now, not a
small window.
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
Pray. Ask God to help. Take support
and help that is offered. If your family
wants to be there to help, let them.
‘Mom was right there’
Kelly Burton vaguely remembers the
months after her diagnosis — a lumpectomy, four rounds of chemotherapy and
more than six weeks of radiation treatments.
The chemotherapy treatments made
her weak and sick for days, and her
immune system was so fragile that her
room had to be sterile and people had to
wear masks and gloves around her.
She couldn’t do anything except lie in
bed and feel guilty for all the work her
husband and children had to do around
the house, she said.
Her daughter, who was a sophomore in
high school at the time, remembers cleaning, cooking and helping take care of the
household, duties her mother had handled
with ease. She struggled to focus in
But she never let on to her mother
because she didn’t want her to feel worse,
she said.
“I felt like I needed to hold it together
so she would too,” Velia Burton said.
Her son, Travis Burton, was taking
classes but spent much of his time at
home with his mother.
Travis Burton helped around the house
because his dad was working, and he took
care of her when she felt sick.
That was a difficult change, he said.
Pictured: Kelly Burton stands with her
son, Travis Burton, at her Greenwood
home that displays a “Strive For A
Cure” flag.
“When I was young, if you were sick,
Mom was right there. So for her to be sick
was difficult,” Travis Burton said.
Seeing her lose her hair was the most
difficult because she was so upset about
it. For years, his mother had curly hair, a
vision that stuck in his brain.
But then her hair began thinning and
falling out in chunks.
So Travis Burton decided to shave his
mother’s head and then his own so that
she didn’t have to be bald alone, he said.
“She was so upset. I was trying to do
what I could for her,” Travis Burton said.
Each morning, he knew from the look
on her face what the day would bring.
“I could definitely tell in the morning
what the day was going to be — whether
she was going to take on the world or
just hang out at home,” Travis Burton
But there definitely were more days
where she was taking on the world than
not, Travis and Velia Burton said.
American Legion
334 US 31 S | Greenwood
post 252
‘Not sentenced to it’
Kelly Burton credits her strength to her
family, especially her husband, Roy, who
kept a positive attitude through it all.
He learned how to help her, replacing
her drainage tubes when one fell out after
surgery. He was convinced she would
recover. After her final chemotherapy
treatment, he took her on a spur-of-themoment trip to Florida to visit friends.
“If he had felt like I did, we probably
never would have made it through it. I
needed that uplifting,” Kelly Burton said.
She still dreads her yearly mammogram, each time worrying something will
show up. Two years ago, a spot showed up
on her scan, but a biopsy showed it wasn’t
Seven years removed from her battle
with breast cancer, she worries about her
Because of their family history, Velia
Burton has to start mammograms at age
29, 10 years before the age her mother
was diagnosed.
Kelly Burton had considered doing
genetic testing to see if she carries the
gene marker that shows a higher risk of
cancer but decided against it. She already
had been poked and prodded enough, she
She reminds her daughter to do selfexams and not to ignore anything like she
For Velia Burton, knowing there is a
family history of breast cancer is scary,
but she doesn’t let it dictate her life.
She has three sons, ages 5, 3 and 7
months, to keep her busy enough.
“I’m not sentenced to it. I don’t think it
necessarily has to come to me. I’m more
optimistic and positive. I’m not going out
like that,” Velia Burton said.
Supporting the fight
• Our dining room is open to the
public 5-9pm
• We hold Texas Hold ‘Em every
Tuesday night 7pm
• We have entertainment every
Wed. and Sat. night 7:30
• Our banquet hall is available for
rental, well below average price
• We rent our outdoor pavilion for
parties, reunions, etc.
Why not stop in to check us out and
enjoy the friendliest Veterans post in
Full Bar Available • Open 7 Days
997 E. County Line Rd. • Greenwood
(Co. Line & Emerson)
‘I did what I had to do’
Woman finds support in husband
he puffiness in her arm, soreness in her bones and
the underarm hair that’s never grown back are daily
reminders of her battle with breast cancer four years
But Janis Poynter Kittle, 53, wants others to have
a reminder of the disease that affects women every
That’s why she drives a pink tractor.
The antique tractor was a gift from her husband, Bruce Kittle,
which he painted “breast cancer pink.” She now drives the tractor in local parades, often while sitting under a pink umbrella.
But she doesn’t stop there.
Kittle also sends a card or e-mail to strangers who have been
recently diagnosed and offers her support. She buys anything
that gives proceeds to breast cancer research. And she encourages friends, co-workers, even acquaintances she meets to get
Early detection saves lives, including hers, she said.
“Something happened within that year. Something came up. It
was Stage 2 by the time I went,” Kittle said.
Kittle was diagnosed in 2007 after her yearly mammogram,
which she started at age 40, detected something odd.
It wasn’t a lump, and Kittle had “odd things” come up in previous tests. But her doctor wanted another test. So Kittle went for
an ultrasound, an uncomfortable experience where she started to
wonder if the technician was going to rub her breast off, she
The test showed a 3-centimeter mass, and her doctor ordered a
Then came the waiting for the results, which seemed like
years, Kittle said.
She had hoped the mass would be nothing. A friend of hers
previously had a biopsy, and it turned out to be nothing.
But then she got the news. It was cancer.
“Now what do I do? What’s the quickest way to get rid of this?”
she said.
Over the next year, Kittle focused on getting better.
First was the surgery to remove the lump. The surgeon also
removed 25 lymph nodes and found five with cancer.
She got a staph infection and had to wait longer to start chemotherapy but then got eight treatments over 16 weeks. Then,
she had to wait again to recover before she did 33 radiation treatments.
Her doctor had told her that with chemotherapy and radiation
she had a 96 percent chance of living, she said.
The chemotherapy treatments were hard on her body. She lost
her hair, a disturbing sight to her daughter, Hannah, now 28, who
cried when she saw Kittle pulling out hair and throwing it in a
trash can while watching television.
“She cried and then I did, too. I wasn’t even thinking about it,”
she said.
And she got burns from the radiation treatments, similar to a
sunburn, she said.
SkkSSSSStt c
Doctors told her the chemotherapy drugs she was on were
aggressive and could cause damage to her organs and bones. So
far, tests have shown she is OK, but she worries about the aches
and pains she feels, she said.
But through it all, Kittle never took the time to wallow in grief
and feel sorry for herself. She focused on getting better, she said.
Kittle is a planner, and she used that skill to make sure she got
all of her treatments and tests.
“You think back on it, and you think I did what I had to do. But
then you think, gosh, I could have died,” she said.
Kittle was reminded of that when a co-worker’s cancer
returned and, after months of treatment, she died.
Luckily, more people survive.
Before her diagnosis, Kittle didn’t notice all the people in her
life who had fought breast cancer. Co-workers, acquaintances,
friends of friends and members of her church came out en masse
after her diagnosis, offering their support.
And now Kittle does the same.
One of her focuses is on education and awareness.
Both of her daughters, Hannah and Hope, 24, will begin mammograms at age 30, since they are more at risk because of her
And when Kittle hears women talking about the discomfort of
a mammogram, she pushes them to deal with the few seconds of
pain because of the benefits of early detection.
“People think it hurts too much, but the pain is worth it. It’s
like pressing on a bruise; it hurts for a few seconds, but it’s not a
big deal,” Kittle said.
Pink already was her favorite color, but now ribbons and other
mementos plaster her walls and furniture.
And then there’s the pink tractor.
Kittle’s husband painted the tractor for her after seeing the
idea in a tractor magazine.
The two weren’t together when she was diagnosed or undergoing treatment, but once he met her, he started realizing just how
many people were affected by breast cancer, including some
men, too, Bruce Kittle said.
And, since prostate cancer runs in his family, she could someday have to be there for him in a cancer battle, he said.
Breast cancer was a life-changing event for her, but he is also
proud of her work to raise awareness after her battle, Bruce
Kittle said.
“How you deal with it is as important and maybe more important as the disease itself,” Bruce Kittle said.
Bruce Kittle thought the tractor would bring more awareness
to the issue. He already brings home pretty much anything he
sees breast cancer related when he is out, including toilet paper,
he said.
Bruce Kittle got a kick out of seeing her drive the tractor in
the Johnson County fair parade this year.
“I’ve ran tractors in parades for years, and I’ve never heard
people holler like that,” he said.
Janis Poynter Kittle
May 2007 with infiltrating ductal carcinoma,
Stage 2
Lumpectomy, eight chemotherapy
treatments over 16 weeks, and 33 radiation
What cancer taught me
It made me more aware of cancer. It taught
me life is short. Take it one day at a time.
And don’t take life too seriously.
How cancer changed me
It made my faith stronger. It could kill you,
and you want all the support you could get.
You want to be healed. I had no time to feel
bad for myself.
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
I would tell them to try not to worry. There is
a lot of support out there. I would be there
for them. If you have questions about treatment, ask away. I’ve had a lot of support for
me, so I want to be there to support someone else, too.
Pictured: Breast cancer survivor Janis
Poynter Kittle with the 1942 Farmall BN
tractor her husband, Bruce, painted pink.
We support the fight against Breast Cancer
1480 Olive Branch Parke Ln.
Greenwood, IN 46142
(Across from G.H. Herrmann on St. Rd. 135)
Drycleaning • Alterations
FREE pick-up & delivery
Mandy Greenlee Bourff, DDS
Morton Family
Dental Care
Suzanne Allmand, DDS
2179 North Morton • Franklin
Call today! (317) 738-9884
Owner Amber and her daughters Lauren & Kelsey
We are helping clean
up Breast Cancer!
Proud to
“Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears.”
- Arthur Koestler
} r
`'t tl Iqqqlr
r n f f a aa a
J ..
1300 US 31 South • Greenwood
2 miles south of the Greenwood Park Mall
1250 US 31 South • Greenwood
2 miles south of the Greenwood Park Mall
‘I was going to
make it’
Woman’s dog credited with finding tumor
ressed entirely in pink, the Whiteland resident prepared to walk a mile around the family’s neighborhood.
Kathryn Turner wasn’t ready for April’s Susan
G. Komen walk in Indianapolis. She had been
battling breast cancer for less than a year and
wanted to at least make it beyond the 12-month mark before
participating in the Komen event.
So she went for her own walk.
Grubby, the family’s 6-year-old dog, a boxer-cocker spaniel
mix, went with her.
As she walked around the neighborhood, she thought about
everything she had been through in the past year: a cancer diagnosis, a mastectomy and four months of chemotherapy.
Turner thanked God during the walk for the blessings of the
year’s high points, for getting her through the low ones, and for
Grubby, the dog she believes found her cancer.
Turner had her right breast removed Oct. 3, 2010, after eight
rounds of chemo. She discovered the lump in her breast at the
end of May, and no one will ever convince her that Grubby didn’t
help her find it.
Turner and her husband, Gerald, bought Grubby six years ago
as a gift for their youngest daughter, Skye, then 10 years old. A
co-worker of Turner’s sold her the dog and a sandwich bag filled
with dog food for $50.
In May 2010, Turner was sitting on the living room love seat
when Grubby began jumping up next to her, pushing her head
underneath Turner’s armpit. She tried to keep the dog off the
furniture, but as Grubby sat on the floor the dog kept staring at
Turner and shaking.
That night, Turner was getting ready for bed when she
scratched an itch near where Grubby’s head had been.
“When I scratched, that’s when I found the monster,” she said.
‘I found a lump’
Her pulse quickened as terror began to set in.
Turner, a nurse, did a self-exam, comparing the sides of each
breast, and she wondered whether the lump could be a cyst or at
least something benign.
Then she ran to tell her husband who was working with the
couple’s son, 24-year-old Nicolas, in a shed in the backyard.
Gerald Turner and Nicolas were coming up the driveway as
Kathryn raced to meet them.
“Honey, honey, honey, I found a lump,” she told Gerald before
collapsing into his arms.
Grubby stood behind her, running in circles.
Turner immediately had a mammogram followed by a biopsy.
The room was quiet during the procedure, and Turner tried to
find the how and why behind the lump.
She knew of no genetic connection through her family.
She didn’t smoke, do drugs or drink.
Still, she knew she was in trouble.
The biopsy results took four days to arrive, and they were the
longest days of Turner’s life. During the day she would keep busy
with work and with meetings. But between 10:30 p.m. and 5 a.m.,
when the family slept, all of her fears about the lump ambushed her.
She tried to sleep but would jerk awake, crying “Please God,
help us.”
Gerald Turner rubbed her back, her head and sometimes put
his arms around his wife, trying to comfort her. Other nights
Nicolas and Skye would come into their parents’ room and pray
for their mother to be able to sleep.
Each night, Turner pondered questions no wife or mother
wants to think about. Who would finish raising Skye? Who would
be there for Nicolas? What about her oldest daughter, the newly
married Ashley?
She was desperate to find a way to fix the situation in case her
prognosis was terminal.
Focusing on positives
After four days, Turner received the phone call: She had cancer. Her surgeon initially thought it was Stage 3 breast cancer,
but after a more extensive biopsy confirmed there was no cancer
in Turner’s lymph nodes it was classified as Stage 2.
Turner’s doctor wanted to shrink the tumor before removing it.
She was scheduled to undergo eight rounds of chemotherapy over
16 weeks, followed by surgery to remove her breast and then
Chemo began in June and ended Oct. 3, 2010.
Today, Turner’s hair reaches her neck, but before chemo it
went as far as her waist. She was determined as she started
treatment that she wasn’t going to lose her hair — God wasn’t
going to let it happen. Fifteen days into chemo, Turner was
brushing her hair when the brush kept going and going and she
realized her hair was coming out.
Turner was prescribed medication to prevent her from becoming nauseous because of the chemo, but she lost her appetite, and
her sense of taste was destroyed. People brought her lamb chops
and other meals, but everything tasted like metal, and she felt
like she was chewing on rubber.
But Turner chose to focus on the positive: She was a step closer to killing the monster.
‘I need help’
Turner had a mastectomy Oct. 28, 2010. She knows some
women would have opted to have both breasts removed, which
she would have done had the cancer spread.
“That wasn’t an option for me. I wanted to be as close to normal as I could be,” she said.
For reconstruction, Turner will have her right breast reconstructed with tissue from her back and abdominal area.
“So that it’s me,” she said.
After surgery she discussed the planned radiation with her
doctors. She didn’t understand what was left to radiate. Her
doctors conducted additional tests to confirm the cancer hadn’t
spread and eventually agreed the radiation wasn’t necessary.
During treatment and afterward, Gerald Turner had to relearn
what it meant to be a spouse.
“It made being a husband a tough job. When you say ‘I do’ it
means you do a lot of things. Things you didn’t ever think you’d
do,” he said.
He didn’t expect to have to hold his wife as she cried over
whether she would die from cancer or to have conversations
about whether the cancer would return later.
The couple had insurance but still were responsible for some of
the costs, which came just months after they’d dipped into their
savings to pay for Ashley’s wedding. Gerald Turner eventually
had to set up a payment plan through the hospital.
“I’ve learned that you swallow your pride, you go in there and
you say ‘I need help,’” he said.
‘I knew that I was going to live’
While Turner has been cancer-free for almost a year, she said
the disease continues to affect her marriage.
The couple are more deliberate about planning for trips that
they had long saved for, such as an Alaskan cruise.
But her reconstruction is not yet complete, and Turner worries
about how she looks to her husband, who has never said a negative word about her appearance.
“Next to Christ, he’s my rock,” Turner said.
In December, with chemo behind her, Turner had begun to
regrow her hair and eyebrows. One day while visiting her friend
Donna Ghent, Ghent’s grandson, Benjamin Slaughter, came up
and sat next to Turner as he often did when she would visit. He
looked at her sprouting hair and told her that it looked like she
had a head again.
Turner fights back tears when she thinks of her friend Benjamin’s comments.
“This is how I knew that I was going to live, I was going to
make it,” she said.
Since last year’s surgery, Turner has been preparing for reconstruction surgery by receiving injections to stimulate skin and muscle growth. She has a physical exam every three months, has blood
work done regularly and receives a mammogram every six months.
There is a 75 percent chance that the cancer won’t return, and
that is the number she and her family focus on.
Turner thanked Grubby for finding the cancer during her walk
in April. When she tells people how the tumor was discovered
some people appear amazed while others laugh, branding Grubby the cancer-finding dog.
Whether they believe it or not is irrelevant for her.
“I know what I know. And I’ll never believe otherwise,” Turner
Kathryn Turner
June 2010, with Stage 2, ductal, right breast
Underwent chemotherapy, a mastectomy
and is undergoing reconstructive surgery
What cancer taught me
I have learned that cancer is not a respecter
of persons. It’s anybody’s monster. I’ve
learned that there is life during and after
treatment and surgeries.
How cancer changed me
I was not a person to cry easily. But I find
myself more tender hearted now than I once
was. It’s made me passionate, so much
more passionate.
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
Fight. Write down all of the questions you
have for your doctors, no matter how small
or silly they could be. Take them to the
appointments, and if they don’t have the
answers then find someone who does. In
finding your “new you,” there will be changes. Your body will go through changes,
there’s no way around it. But have fun with
the changes.
Pictured: Cancer survivor Kathryn Turner
credited her dog Grubby with finding the
tumor in Turner’s right breast.
Learning from
Family tragedy prompts woman to acknowledge risk
heryle Anderson didn’t know that her mother was dying when
she saw her in July 1980, but she and her siblings knew something was wrong.
The family was gathered for the funeral of Anderson’s sister
Sandie Willey, who had died of complications from bronchitis
at age 31. At the funeral her mother, Margaret Willey, wore a
long-sleeve turtleneck despite the July heat.
Four months later, on Nov. 6, 58-year-old Willey died from breast cancer.
She was the first relative Anderson would see killed by the disease, but she
wouldn’t be the last.
Anderson, now 65, is the third oldest of 13 children that included 10 girls.
Between 1980 and 2003, she saw breast cancer kill her mother and two of
her sisters. Another of Anderson’s sisters is a breast cancer survivor.
Three cancer-related deaths in 23 years scared the Columbus resident
into making sure she was taking care of herself. Since her mother’s death,
she’s regularly done self-exams, receives annual mammograms and is
considering having testing for the breast cancer gene done.
“I worry. How can you not when you’ve got that many in your family
that’s had it,” she said.
Anderson was born and raised in Franklin. Margaret and Kenneth Willey worked hard to provide for their large family. Margaret Willey also
came from a large family, so she knew what was needed to keep everyone
happy and healthy.
Kenneth Willey worked as a painter, and Margaret Willey kept the house
clean and made meals. Lots of dinners were made of bologna, potatoes
and beans, but every two weeks when Kenneth Willey got paid the family
would have a special dinner of hamburgers.
“We were poor, but we didn’t know we were poor, know what I mean?”
Anderson said.
Anderson’s older sister, Diana Keller, was the first of her immediate
family to be diagnosed with breast cancer, but Anderson doesn’t remember much about what happened. All she knows for sure is that she beat it,
and Keller is still alive at 72.
Nearly a decade later at Sandie Willey’s funeral, Anderson and her
sisters suspected their mom was sick. The only explanation the family
could think of for Willey’s long sleeves in the summer was to cover up
cancerous sores. But she wouldn’t go to see a doctor. Willey was taken to
the hospital in November after the pain became too much to bear, and she
died Nov. 6, 1980.
“I guess it’s just because she was scared. I … she just didn’t. She didn’t
seek help of any kind,” Anderson said.
Cheryle Anderson
Lost her mother and two sisters to
breast cancer. A third sister was
diagnosed with breast cancer but
What cancer taught me
To be more aware of all cancers and
take better care of yourself. …
When you see family go through
that, you try to find out about other
things also. You learn from what
other people go through.
How cancer changed me
To be more aware of my own body.
You can’t quite explain it until you
see somebody go through it. It just
changes you, your outlook on that
disease is just totally different.
What I would tell someone
just diagnosed with cancer
You’ve got to be optimistic. You
can’t bury your head.
‘It was horrifying’
No one is sure when Anderson’s sister Brenda Burton discovered her
tumor. Anderson doesn’t think she waited as long as their mother to seek
treatment, but Burton’s daughter, Grace Norton, 49, remembers her mother waiting years for treatment before dying as well.
Some of Norton’s favorite memories of her mother came after her son
Michael was born in 1981. Every time the seasons changed, Burton bought
her new grandson a new wardrobe. Four times a year Norton received new
shirts and pants along with jerseys and jackets for her son.
Michael doesn’t remember much about his grandmother. What he
remembers is seeing his mom cry, Norton said.
Burton avoided seeing a doctor about the lump in her breast until the
cancer spread and tumors began appearing around her neck. Norton
remembers her father, Wayne Durbin, telling her that Burton didn’t want
doctors experimenting on her.
“It was horrifying because she had let it go,” Norton said.
Burton was beyond surgery by the time she was diagnosed. Her doctors
put her on chemotherapy and eventually radiation, but she died Oct. 22,
People told Norton she would be angry at her mother for waiting for
treatment, but she wasn’t. Instead she cried every time the seasons
changed for 10 years. She also learned to expect the worst. Her father later
was diagnosed and died of cancer, and during that time Norton didn’t let
herself believe there was hope.
The cancer-related deaths scared Anderson, Norton and the other
women of the family into action, getting annual mammograms after 40
and performing self-exams. Mammograms are nerve-wracking experiences
— with every appointment comes the fear that the doctor will find something suspicious, Norton said.
Anderson’s sister, Prudence Blessing, also was vigilant about mammograms and self-exams, and in 2001 she found a lump in her right breast.
Early detection stressed
Blessing was living in Virginia with her husband, Craig, and their two
kids when she was diagnosed. She underwent chemotherapy followed by a
double mastectomy and then more chemo. The family was hopeful the cancer had been caught in time, but it reappeared a year later.
Blessing underwent additional chemotherapy but continued to get worse
and eventually was diagnosed with leukemia. To survive she would need a
bone marrow transplant. Anderson was tested and matched the bone marrow her sister would need for a transplant; but two weeks before she was
to go to Virginia for the procedure, Blessing died of a stroke.
Anderson doesn’t know how other families would deal with the deaths of
numerous siblings, but the tragedies brought hers together. She and her
siblings would get together or make phone calls to talk about what had
“Thank goodness for Facebook, e-mail and stuff like that,” she said.
Anderson was diagnosed last year with cervical cancer which was
detected early, and after surgery she required no radiation or chemotherapy. She’s continuing her self-exams and mammograms.
Anderson doesn’t like to make speeches, but she tries to share her family’s history with people. If breast cancer comes up as a topic of conversation she talks with women about the importance of early detection. Her
hope is that at least one woman who isn’t thinking about the disease or is
afraid to will start thinking proactively.
“So many women die a year of breast cancer. But also, so many women
survive breast cancer by early detection,” she said.
Msgr. Sheridan
Knights of Columbus
695 E Pushville Rd.
6:30pm earlybirds | 7:00pm regular games
Ist Sunday every month 2:00pm
Delicious food & drink served
Payouts dependent on number of people in attendance
Proud supporters of
License #124159
Every Thursday Evening
We support
the fight ag
breast canc
Pictured: Cheryle Anderson lost her
mother Margaret Willey, lower left,
and sister Brenda Burton to cancer.
Another sister, Prudence Blessing,
also developed cancer and later
died of a stroke.
950 Adults • $450 Children under 10
15% off
SATURDAY, OCT. 8, 2011
5:30 - 8:30 PM
Have your next gathering with us!
Rent our hall or shelter house
at very reasonable prices.
Great for:
• wedding receptions
• reunions
• retirements
• birthdays
• office party
Puerto Vallarta
893 E. Main St.
Greenwood, IN
(317) 865-6100
‘I wanted to move on’
Woman chooses aggressive treatment to be safe
Ed Tichenor could see a look of devastation in his wife’s face,
avana Tichenor thought about being diagnosed with
and he immediately began telling her everything would be OK.
breast cancer at least once a year after she turned
“Like a guy, we just want to fix things,” he said.
The next day the family gathered for Thanksgiving dinner.
She had a frightening family history. Her paternal
Maurice Scales, sitting at the head of the table, prepared to give
grandmother had died of breast cancer, and her
thanks, but before he did he lifted a special prayer up to God for
mother and her husband Ed Tichenor’s mother both
his daughter. It was the first of several times Tichenor would
had battled breast cancer and survived. When she was 26,
hear him pray for her in the next two months.
Tichenor found a lump in her breast, but it turned out to be
“That’s probably one of the best gifts he ever gave me,” she
Tichenor began getting annual mammograms
Tichenor was working ahead in the weeks
after turning 30. She and her husband didn’t
leading up to surgery to prepare for the time
dwell on the possibility, but they knew there
she would miss while recovering. She was interwas a very real chance Tichenor would one day
viewing substitute teaching candidates two
face breast cancer. During each mammogram,
weeks before her medical leave when she
Tichenor wondered if this test would be the one
received the news that her father had died.
that revealed she was sick.
“I know he knows everything’s OK, but not
About 10 years ago, around the time Lavana
where I can see that,” she said.
Tichenor’s mother was diagnosed, Tichenor
Tichenor’s double mastectomy operation
began considering a double mastectomy. If she
happened at the end of January 2010. Cancer
was ever diagnosed, she was prepared to get
cells were found in two of the lymph nodes
drastic to ensure the disease didn’t return.
Lavana Tichenor
taken during the procedure, and she had surIn November 2009, when Tichenor, now 57 and
gery again two weeks later to remove 10 more
an art teacher at Whiteland Community High
lymph nodes; all of those were clear.
School, was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast
Tichenor began her 16 rounds of chemo
cancer, her first question to her doctor was
March 1, 2010. Ed Tichenor hated knowing the treatment was
whether she could have both breasts removed.
poisoning her as well as curing her. His lowest point came after
Two months after being diagnosed, on Jan. 30, 2010, Tichenor had
seeing his wife with both breasts removed.
her breasts removed in the first of two surgeries to treat the cancer.
“You wonder, ‘Wow, how are they ever going to put this back to
The surgeries were followed by 16 weeks of chemotherapy.
normal?’” he said.
Tichenor could have opted for a less extreme procedure, but
Tichenor became weak from treatments, lost her hair and her
she wanted to do everything she could to stop the disease from
sense of taste and dropped weight.
coming back.
Ed Tichenor, who is Clark-Pleasant’s transportation director,
“I wanted to put it behind me and move on,” she said.
came home to be with his wife when buses weren’t on the road.
Tichenor’s first real glimpse of the disease came in 2000 when
Many times they would sit together, holding hands and watching
her mother, Thelma Scales, was diagnosed. The tumor was small
but aggressive, and Scales required surgery followed by eight
Tichenor said she just wanted him close.
weeks of chemotherapy.
Sons Seth Tichenor, 24, and Chase Tichenor, 21, who were
Scales was a beautician, and after her first chemo treatment
attending the University of Pittsburgh and Wabash College,
Tichenor sat her mother down in a chair in her beauty shop and
respectively, came home when they could.
shaved her head.
Daughter Jordan Tichenor, 22, was studying pre-med at Frank“It’s kind of ironic that 10 years later I sat in the same chair
lin College during Tichenor’s treatment and moved home to help
and she shaved my head,” Tichenor said.
Tichenor tried to be brave, but after shaving her mother’s head take care of her. She’s now in medical school in Tennessee and is
considering specializing in oncology.
she had a hard time dealing with the fact that her mother was
When Ed Tichenor and the kids were away, Lavana Tichenor’s
fighting for her life.
mother stayed with her. Tichenor and Thelma Scales also used
Tichenor’s father, Maurice Scales, was just as concerned
their time to grieve over the death of Maurice.
because he had watched his mother die of breast cancer when he
was just 11 years old. Tichenor’s father maintained a positive
attitude that his wife would recover, but Tichenor is sure there
was concern that he might have to relive watching cancer take
Six weeks after surgery, while still undergoing chemotherapy,
someone close to him.
Tichenor prepared to go back to school. She had spent only two
weeks with her students and would have to relearn who they
were, but she wanted to finish the year with her students.
The most difficult part for her was getting dressed, putting her
Tichenor was diagnosed after a mammogram screening came
wig on and stepping into the high school. She felt safe and secure
back questionable. Tichenor was called in for a biopsy, and two
while spending time at home; but going out into the world, where
days before Thanksgiving her doctor called and told her the
diagnosis. She had two, small malignant tumors in her left
You wonder,
‘Wow, how are
they ever going
to put this back
to normal?’
‘Never be the same’
Lavana Tichenor
November 2009 with Stage 2, left breast
Double mastectomy, 16 weeks of
What cancer taught me
Cancer has taught me that I have more faith
than I thought I did.
How cancer changed me
I think my stamina is not as great as what it
was, but my courage far exceeds what I
thought my courage was.
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
The outcome of the battle with cancer isn’t
always a choice, but women can take steps
to save their life, and there are people who
will help you during the battle.
Pictured: Whiteland resident Lavana
Tichenor, 57, is an art teacher at Whiteland
Community High School and in 2009 was
diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer and
chose to have a double mastectomy.
‘One of the best gifts’
F =1
Home Health &
Hospice Services
20 Circle Drive
Franklin, IN 46131
Early detection is the best defense against breast cancer.
4j (
Always your best choice!
‘Timing is just everything’
Mary Sue Meiser
Woman in rush to get back to life
ary Sue Meiser was determined to miss as little
He saw his wife leaning on her faith in God, and he tried to
work as possible.
take comfort in Scripture that told the couple God wouldn’t lay
The co-owner of Underwater Unlimited was
more on them then they could bear.
used to working 80-hour weeks to help keep the
Dave Meiser also couldn’t help asking himself whether she
swimming pool retail store she owns with her
could beat the cancer.
husband, Dave, going smoothly. Breast cancer
Mary Sue Meiser eventually had to help manage her husband’s
was not going to stop her from running her business.
stress. She didn’t let him accompany her to doctor’s appointShe saw the situation as simple: Meet with
ments, and she told him everything he needed to
doctors to determine the best, most effective
know but tried not to overwhelm him with infortreatment, and then do it. The cancer eventumation.
ally would be behind her and she could get
“She handled the entire situation better than I
back to water skiing and reading by the water
did,” Dave Meiser said.
with Dave and their grown children, Heather
Meiser’s surgery was May 16, 2004, and she
and James.
had expanders for reconstruction put in immeMeiser, 57, of Greenwood, typically received
diately following the mastectomy. People had
annual mammograms in February; but in 2004
told her how bad the procedure was, but she
she pushed back her appointment to take a
simply saw it as what was needed to get
vacation to Florida. She now thinks of the trip
to Florida and the appointment’s two-month
“It was just something you had to work into
delay as a gift from God. The test revealed
your schedule and just do,” she said.
cancer, but it was very small, Stage 0. An
Meiser wasn’t able to lift her arms above her
earlier mammogram might not have detected
shoulders after surgery, and her daughter put
it, letting the cancer grow for a year.
hair extensions and braided her mother’s hair
Mary Sue Meiser
“Timing is just everything,” she said.
for six months. Meiser also did physical therapy
Meiser met with her doctors and decided on
to regain use of her arms.
a double mastectomy. She didn’t want to take
Meiser’s doctors told her it would take time to
the chance the cancer could come back, and seven years later
recovery from surgery, but she was back at work within three
she stands by her decision.
weeks. In 37 years in business it’s been her longest absence.
“To me it was very black and white. It was a no-brainier to me.
“There’s just so many things that I’m responsible for; and
Do everything now,” she said.
when I’m absent, it causes a lot of issues,” she said.
Meiser relied heavily on her faith in God. She believes God had
Meiser spent an uncomfortable year using the expanders to
a hand in the mammogram delay that led to cancer being detectstimulate skin growth. In 2005 the expanders came out and she
ed, and she felt a peace about the situation that came from outreceived implants.
side herself.
Meiser was amazed at the reconstruction process, namely how
“God just put calmness on my heart that I just really didn’t
the doctors used her own skin to create nipples and how tattooing
think another thing about it,” she said.
made the result look natural.
Meiser also believes that if she hadn’t battled cancer in 2004
“Just the whole process was so educational,” she said.
she would have been facing something else.
Meiser has been cancer free since her surgery seven years
“Something’s going to happen to all of us at some point in time. ago, but it’s not something she thinks about. Her daughter is
What those somethings are we don’t have control over, for the
more vigilant about the importance of early detection and mammost part,” she said.
mograms, but Meiser doesn’t want her to dwell, either.
Dave Meiser said he couldn’t imagine what his wife was
What she went through was a trial and no different from the
going through, and he tried to make the time between his
kinds of challenges people around the world face on a daily basis,
wife’s diagnosis and surgery as easy as possible for her. He
she said.
listened to her and looked for ways to make her comfortable.
And Meiser said she doesn’t believe the outcome of the trial
He helped take care of their two dogs, helped with grocery
was entirely up to her.
shopping and found people to help with yard work, but he also
“I don’t consider myself a survivor. God wasn’t done with what
felt helpless.
I have to do here,” she said.
I don’t consider
myself a
survivor. God
wasn’t done
with what I
have to do
Stage 0, hormone-driven cancer in her right
Double mastectomy
What cancer taught me
You don’t take anything for granted, ever.
You just stop stressing and sweating and
worrying over small stuff.
How cancer changed me
“It’s made me a better person.” Anytime she
sees an opportunity to say something
encouraging to someone, she takes it.
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
Don’t let your imagination run away with
you. Talk with your doctors, have faith in
them that they know what they’re doing. If
you’re comfortable talking with people about
the diagnosis, do that. If you need time by
yourself to regroup, do that. Everyone goes
through the process differently.
Pictured: Breast cancer survivor Mary Sue
Meiser was back to work at her family
business three weeks after having surgery.
Call Ahead Seating!
(317) 859-8800
Installing awareness in the community
one customer order at a time.
Breast Cancer
Hours: Mon-Fri: 8-5 • Thurs 8-7
‘Surprised by
my strength’
Mother, daughter beat breast cancer
Franklin resident feared the
worst after her annual mammogram when her doctor’s
office called to schedule an
appointment for another test.
Both her mother and
grandmother had breast cancer.
Given her family history, Karyn Hakes
was sure she did too.
A biopsy confirmed her fear.
Hakes had a cancerous lump a few
centimeters in width. Her breast cancer
was in an early stage, but it was an
aggressive type that could withstand
hormone treatment.
Hakes underwent a lumpectomy that
was followed by chemotherapy and radiation.
She relied on God, her church and her
family for support during her treatment.
She said she felt that she wouldn’t have
been able to make it through the fear,
fatigue or the loneliness inside the radiation machine without their help.
Her mother, Veda Wade, helped Hakes
maintain her spirit and her faith. Wade
guided her daughter through the procession of appointments and treatment sessions, while recounting how she survived
the disease herself.
“She told me I would get through it, that
it wouldn’t last forever,” Hakes said. “She
was very encouraging.”
Like her mother, Wade survived breast
Wade was diagnosed with the disease in
1995 and got chemotherapy and a mastectomy.
She never felt as bad during her own
struggle with breast cancer as she did
when her daughter told her she had been
diagnosed with the disease, she said.
“It was harder to learn that my daughter had it,” Wade said. “As a parent, you
don’t want to see your child suffer. I was
Her daughter’s recovery soon became
the focus of her daily prayer. Wade
believed that God would take care of her
But she didn’t want her daughter to
endure her treatment alone. She accompanied Hakes to most of her doctor’s
appointments and chemotherapy sessions.
“Breast cancer is a lonely disease,” she
said. “It helps to have somebody there
with you, someone to support you.”
While they sat in waiting rooms, Wade
told her daughter to have faith and to
trust in God’s will. She also told Hakes it
was a no-brainer, she just had to follow
her doctors’ advice.
Hakes did, even agreeing to three additional radiation treatments to make certain that cancerous cells were expunged.
She underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation before being given an 80
percent chance of survival.
Wade told Hakes exactly what she could
expect — the nausea, the trouble eating
and the hair loss.
She warned her daughter that she’d lose
Karyn Hakes
June 2009
Lumpectomy, followed by chemotherapy and
radiation treatments
What cancer taught me
It’s taught me that God can help me get
through anything, and that’s how I had the
strength to get through having breast cancer.
How cancer changed me
hair all over her body, including in places
where she’d least expect it. Her hearing
hasn’t been the same since her own bout
with chemotherapy, when she lost the hair
in her ears.
Over time, Hakes lost most of her hair,
including in her nostrils. She found that
out when she started having nosebleeds.
She feared the bleeding was something
more serious. But a nurse told her that it
sometimes happens as a result of hair
Her long blond hair came out in clumps
until only a few patches were left. She
wore a crocheted cap to bed because her
head got cold.
Her mother helped her pick out wigs
when she started going in for chemotherapy. She did her daughter’s makeup while
she tried new looks, such as a strawberry
blond color and curly red hair.
“It was a chance for me to try new
things, like red hair or curly hair or longer hair,” she said. “I told them I might
even try purple hair.”
She ended up rotating through four wigs
until her hair grew out long enough for a
scarf. The new looks excited her, but she
couldn’t bear to look in the mirror if she
wasn’t wearing a wig.
Her husband, Marion Hakes, was
shocked by how much her appearance had
changed but kept it to himself.
He shaved his head in solidarity. But he
didn’t stay bald for long. He cut his own
hair with a razor and a hand mirror,
leaving behind nicks and a large gash.
He arranged to have an ankle surgery
he had been putting off around the time
she had her chemotherapy. That way, he
got time off from work to help take care of
Her chemotherapy left her weak, and he
didn’t want her to have to cook or clean.
He also made sure he was around the
house in case she needed him to fetch a
It made me want to enjoy life more and have
more of a positive attitude toward things,
toward life, and be around people who are
more positive. I don’t want to hear negative
things, and I think it made me more positive
drink or make her more comfortable.
“It was worrisome,” he said. “Some
days, she’d sleep until two or three in the
He tried to persuade her to eat, but she
didn’t have much of an appetite. She tried
to eat spicy foods because she couldn’t
taste anything otherwise.
Her mother sometimes came over and
took her out to lunch to make sure she
was eating. She brought Hakes desserts
and salads after their Wednesday night
Bible study.
“She wouldn’t eat much of anything,”
Wade said.
Her appetite and energy returned about
a month after they stopped pumping the
chemical cocktail through her veins, and
her nausea also faded.
But then she started radiation. Those
treatments were worse than the chemotherapy that drained her of the will to get
out of bed, she said.
The chemotherapy took a toll on her
body, while the radiation made her feel
Her husband had kept her company and
held her hand during her three-and-a-halfhour long chemotherapy sessions, but she
was all alone in the radiation room. No
one else was allowed inside.
Marion Hakes paced in the waiting
room, nervously sipping soda.
Hakes felt lonely at first, just staring at
the ceiling. But she began to pray.
“I knew God was with me, and that
made me feel better and made it go faster,” she said. “It was like Jesus was standing with me and holding my hand.”
Hakes credits her belief in God for
getting her through her struggle with
“I just let go and let God take care of
me,” she said. “I was surprised at the
strength I had when God was at my
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
I’d tell them to pray a lot and that God would
see them through the situation they’re in.
Pictured: Cancer survivor Karyn Hakes, left,
wears her pink cancer survivor shirt with
her mom, Veda Wade, who’s wearing her
cancer survivor scarf, in the sanctuary at
Edinburgh First Church of the Nazarene.
Wade and Hakes are second- and third-generation cancer survivors, respectively.
It was harder to learn that my daughter had it. As a parent, you
don’t want to see your child suffer. I was crestfallen.
Veda Wade
Hamilton ONE STEP
' I
1 '
facial plastic surgery
Dr. Hamilton’s office provides expert
resources and safe solutions to those who are
going through or have gone through cancer
Our commitment to ongoing education will
help rebuild your confidence and restore your
skin health.
Elaine Gregory, Licensed Aesthetician
Certified in Oncology Aesthetics
Now offering evening and weekend appointments.
533 E. County Line Rd., Ste. 104
Greenwood, IN 46143
14; 5 x+
lov e n it
2080 E. King St.
(I-65 and US 44, Exit 90)
(dining room & drive-thru)
Franklin, IN 46131
706 W. Trafalgar Pointe Way
NOW OPEN at 4:30 a.m.
Trafalgar, IN 46181
Dealing with
a loss
A decade later, daughter still coping with emotions
ndrea Bible talks to her
mom every few weeks.
She chats about what’s
going on in her life, new
nieces and nephews, marriage and her job. Once in
a while she’ll talk about the past —
when Bible was a headstrong teenager
and argued with her mother.
“I have a regret,” Bible said. “We
fought. I never came right out and said,
‘Hey, I’m sorry for the fights.’”
Bible speaks to her mother, Anita
Cisco, at Greenlawn Cemetery in
Franklin, where she is buried.
Ten years ago, Cisco died of breast
For Bible, the sting of her mother’s
death remains. She has trouble understanding the emotions she felt and
continues to experience, and it has
taken her a decade to begin opening up
and sharing her feelings.
One Saturday before Christmas in
1996, Bible drove from her home in
Mooresville to her parents’ house in
Franklin. Cisco had been to the doctor
recently and asked her daughter to
come to her house.
Bible sat on the floor and faced her
“She looked a little worried. She
definitely was not her cheerful, jovial
self,” Bible said.
Cisco finally said that she was sick.
The lump her family doctor had said a
few months back was a cyst turned out
to be breast cancer.
Cisco’s eyes filled with tears, but
Bible held her own tears back for the
sake of her mom.
“I was dumbfounded, shell-shocked,”
Bible said.
Bible suggested they call a friend
who was a nurse that specialized in
oncology. She was able to calm the pair
and make the situation less bewildering.
Bible remembers driving to her husband’s workplace and crying on his
shoulder, releasing the tears she had
More than a decade later, Bible
remembers the thought that raced
through her mind.
“Is Mom going to die? I’m sure I
thought it,” Bible said. “I also knew
they had made so many advancements
in treatments.”
‘A real serious shock’
Her paternal grandmother, Florence
Cisco, had a mastectomy when Bible
was young and was cancer free. To
Bible, that meant the disease could be
Bible’s father, Richard Cisco, took
charge during his wife’s treatments. He
attended every doctor’s appointment
after his wife discovered the lump in
her breast.
Sitting in Dr. S. Chace Lottich’s office
in 1996, Richard Cisco said he figured it
would be another routine visit.
“It’s a real serious shock,” Richard
Cisco said after hearing the diagnosis.
Lottich had asked when they wanted
to schedule a lumpectomy.
“We looked at each other and said,
‘Tomorrow,’” Richard Cisco said.
After the surgery, life was normal for
Anita Cicso
52 when she died Aug. 6, 1999
December 1996 with breast cancer
that metastasized to her lung and
Surgery to take out the lump and
lymph nodes in January 1997,
chemotherapy and eight weeks of
radiation for five days a week
Andrea Bible talked about her
experiences as her mother battled cancer.
her colleagues, “Oh, I just decided to
change my hair.”
Back to the hospital
a little more than a year until the cancer came back. Then came chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
After each doctor’s visit, Bible called
her mother. If Anita Cisco was scared,
she never let her daughter know.
While Anita Cisco hid her emotions,
her family did the same.
Richard Cisco said he worried that if
he admitted his fearful feelings it would
bring his wife down.
Keeping the situation lighthearted
was tough, however, after Anita Cisco’s
hair fell out during chemotherapy treatments.
Richard Cisco remembers his wife’s
embarrassment when her wig blew off
in a parking lot.
When her hair finally started growing
back, it came in salt and pepper and
curly, a big difference from her previous straight brown hair.
Anita Cisco never let the treatments
get in the way of her work at a bank.
She worked every day during her radiation treatments.
Richard Cisco said it was her way of
not dwelling on the situation, and she
didn’t want to worry her friends.
Her co-workers weren’t aware of her
disease. The first day she came in
displaying her regrown hair, she told
What my mother’s cancer
taught me
When she finished her treatments in
1998, she went back to enjoying volleyball, hiking and selling Longaberger
“I thought we were in the clear,”
Richard Cisco said.
Then in May 1999, Anita Cisco started
coughing, a cough that antibiotics
couldn’t stop.
Richard Cisco remembers coming
home after a trip with his wife and
listening to a message on the answering
machine that said, “You need to contact
the oncologist immediately.”
As fate would have it, the cancer had
spread to her liver and lungs.
Anita Cisco spent most of that summer in the hospital — except for the
Fourth of July because she wanted to
see the fireworks in Edinburgh.
The woman whom family members
had jokingly called “skinny-mini” now
was bloated from a blood infection.
She was allowed to come home in late
July, but a few nights later she told her
husband she needed to go back to the
She was hooked up to a ventilator and
often slipped in and out of consciousness.
On Aug. 5, 1999, Anita Cisco’s 52nd
birthday, Bible showed up in the hospital parking lot with balloons.
Anita Cisco’s sister, Susie Townsend,
stopped Bible before she entered the
hospital. Townsend told her that her
mom wasn’t responding. The pair
called the rest of the family.
Bible sat by the hospital bed talking
and held her mother’s hand. Every
once in a while she would feel a
Anita Cisco wasn’t responding to the
antibiotics used to kill the infections
that had formed and doctors gave the
family the option to shut off the ventilator.
To be more observant of different
things and changes in my body.
How cancer changed me
I treasure every day and make
memories, because you never
know when your whole world will
be turned upside down.
What I would tell someone
just diagnosed with cancer
To please talk to anybody and
everybody (like family and the
American Cancer Society) for
support. The American Cancer
Society gives all kinds of support,
like rides to appointments and help
with caregivers.
Pictured top: Richard Cisco and
Andrea Bible at the gravesite of wife
and mother Anita Cisco, who lost
her fight to breast cancer in 1999.
Pictured bottom: Andrea Bible,
right, on a trip with her mother
Anita Cisco in 1997 after Cisco was
diagnosed with cancer. It’s been 10
years since Bible lost her mother to
the illness.
‘A great testament’
Richard Cisco decided to shut the
Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
690 State Street t Franklin ,Indiana 46131
317-736-6141 1888-464-6077 7
Greenfield • Greensburg
Rushville • Richmond
Bloomington • Franklin
A group
Multi-doctor approach best for some patients
ithin minutes of being diagnosed with
breast cancer, Heidi Anderson felt overwhelmed by the decisions she faced.
The southside resident would need to
make an appointment with an oncologist
to discuss how much radiation would
work best. At a separate time, she would be need to have
a port surgically implanted so the chemotherapy drugs
could be administered.
Over the coming weeks, Anderson would have to meet
with surgeons, nurses, social workers and financial advocates.
“The process started going so quick. Shockingly so,”
she said.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer already is a devastating development in a woman’s life. But on top of the
disease itself, patients often find themselves overwhelmed
by the amount of information and scheduling they need to
To ease patients through, doctors at Franciscan St.
Francis Health’s breast care clinic have altered the way
they work with patients. Instead of asking women to come
to three or four physicians individually, health officials
have arranged their schedules to meet as one with the
patient, explaining everything from diagnosis to surgery
to post-treatment recovery.
The multi-doctor approach started in 2010 at the breast
care center, but St. Francis has been doing a similar
program with its lung and colorectal cancer patients for
more than four years.
The surgeon, radiologist and oncologist meet with
patients in a conference room together with family members, nurse navigators and others to ease the process.
Each doctor presents information on the breast cancer.
The radiologist shows the scans and X-rays that first
identified the tumor. The surgeon explains whether a
lumpectomy is the best course or if a mastectomy would
be safer.
Appointments for starting chemotherapy, or the amount
of radiation that will be needed, are all reviewed by the
“I like that they’re all right here. It makes it a lot easier
and less stressful. It’s easy to get answers. You don’t get
the runaround; they’ll give you the straight answer,”
Anderson said.
Anderson was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in July.
Her physician had noticed a small indentation on her
breast and sent her to see a radiologist for a mammogram and biopsy.
For Dr. Denise Johnson Miller, director of breast surgery at St. Francis, the sessions help patients navigate
their treatment process without feeling overwhelmed or
“Having to juggle everything to try to get to each different appointments, to every different doctor and make
sure they’re there on time, it’s very, very challenging,”
she said. “Coordinating this care is the biggest factor in a
cancer program.”
A clear timeline for treatment can be established during that meeting, radiologist Dr. Michael Fisher said.
Instead of waiting nearly a month to get all of the necessary tests and appointments, the process can start in a
“There’s something to be said for just getting it over
with. Once they find out, they want us to hurry up, get it
taken care of and be done with it. The waiting part stresses patients out,” said Fisher, a radiologist with Radiology
Associates of Indianapolis.
Before each meeting with the patient, the breast cancer
Grr rww oa4
Top: Breast cancer patient Heidi Anderson, left, talks with surgeon Dr. Denise Johnson Miller at Franciscan St. Francis
Health-Indianapolis. Above: A group of physicians meet to
discuss patients’ treatments during a tumor board meeting at
St. Francis in Indianapolis.
physicians gather for a pre-meeting, which they call the
tumor board. Each specialist can explain what they saw
in the particular diagnosis and course of treatment.
The multi-doctor meetings typically take place before
the patient starts treatment and usually only happens
once. Women can choose if they want to meet as one with
their doctors or see them individually.
Even if they decide not to meet with all of their physicians together, the doctors still gather to discuss treatment.
The opportunity to have all of the main doctors in the
same room, looking at the same data, helps to mark a
clear treatment path for the patient, Johnson Miller said.
“Patient care is not stagnant. People change, situations
change, you get lab results back where you thought the
patient would be fine and it turned out that they’re not,”
she said. “We try to collaborate all of the time, but it
helps to be at one place at one time.”
During a recent session, Johnson Miller explained why
she thought that a lumpectomy was the best option, allow-
ing her to save the breast. She noted on the scan how she
could cut around the cancerous tumor, removing it without having to perform a full mastectomy.
Other doctors raised concerns that the margins were
too close. After discussing the problem, and Johnson
Miller stating her case, it was determined that saving the
breast was the preferred option.
When the doctors disagree, they discuss their own
opinions. The specialist makes the final decision, so a
surgeon would have final say over surgery. But seeing it
from different perspectives helps to make sure one doctor
isn’t missing anything.
“That’s an important discourse to have, whether you
like it or not,” she said. “You need to have a place where
people are looking at things with different eyeballs and
different perspective, so that you can make the best decision possible.”
Family members are asked to come in, as the amount
of information can be overwhelming for a patient by
themselves. Getting the entire family in the room at one
time helps everyone hear the information at the same
time, eliminating confusion.
“Sometimes, these things can be like a game of ‘Telephone.’ One sibling hears it and passes it on to another, then
another, and it gets all jumbled. This way, it’s a little more
understandable and unified overall,” Johnson Miller said.
The multi-doctor clinic is offered as a choice for
patients. If they find it simpler to meet separately, to
process each doctor’s information on its own, they can do
But most find the panels to be the simplest options,
Johnson Miller said.
Anderson has appreciated the fact that all of her doctors are located in one place. Doing so not only makes it
easier for her and her husband, Ron, but eliminates any
doubts that she may be getting counterproductive advice
from two different doctors.
“We can see that the doctors are all in here working
together. That they’re communicating and not having one
say something while another says something different,”
she said.
Show your support with
a brighter smile
Contact us for details (317) 881-5200
8936 Southpointe Dr., Ste B-6, Indianapolis, IN 46227
Banking on a cure
Healthy tissue aids breast cancer research
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank is
accepting donations from all women.
To sign up to be a potential donor, go to Click the “Donor” tab at the top
of the Web site, and follow instructions to join the
interested donor list.
Donations are taken only during special events at
the tissue bank, and currently no events are
scheduled. But by submitting their contact information, potential donors will be informed of the
next donation event and allowed to register.
For more information, contact the bank at (866)
heresa Mathieson slowly
opened the cold storage tank
and removed a stack of glass
Inside the tank were hundreds of tissue samples
donated by women and frozen in liquid
Somewhere in that stack, Mathieson
and others at the Indiana University
Simon Cancer Center hope to find the
cure for breast cancer.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Tissue Bank is the only U.S. facility to
collect, catalog and analyze healthy
breast tissue for research. By comparing
these samples to those from women with
breast cancer, scientists hope to find out
exactly what goes wrong in the cells to
cause tumors.
“You can finally have an idea of exactly
what is going wrong in a cell,” Dr. Susan
Clare said. “Before, we were kind of
guessing. But now we have enough normals that we can figure out what the
range of normal is. If we find something
outside that range, we know it’s somehow
related to cancer.”
Clare is one of the tissue bank’s main
investigators, helping lead the research
that comes from the donated tissue samples. Over the course of four years, they
have helped provide base samples for
cancer researchers all over the world to
analyze against cancer cells.
The bank started in 2005 with a mass
blood donation at the annual Susan G.
Komen Race for the Cure. More than
1,200 samples from healthy women were
brought in and stored in the cancer center’s bank of freezers.
Researchers wanted to expand the
collection to tissue taken directly from
the breast. But hospital administrators
required convincing before they allowed
taking samples from healthy women.
Donation requires women to have a
small slice of tissue cut from within their
bodies. Though the procedure was simple
and took only about 30 minutes, administrators were concerned that women
wouldn’t volunteer to go through that.
But the response has been overwhelming. So far, more than 1,500 women have
donated to the bank.
The samples came from women of all
races, body types and ages. But all of them
have one thing in common — they’ve never
exhibited signs of breast cancer.
Since opening in 2007, the bank has
scheduled special donation days to bring
in as many women as possible to donate.
Every donor must fill out a thorough
health evaluation beforehand. The questionnaires ask about each woman’s health
history, menstrual cycle, how many children they have and their diet.
“The sample becomes exponentially
more valuable as we know more about
the lady,” Clare said. “That way, we can
deduce what might be causing potential
differences between cancerous and
healthy tissue.”
Women then are taken to a clinic room,
where their breast is sterilized, numbed
with local anesthesia and slightly nicked
with a scalpel.
Using a needle, the surgeon removes a
small specimen from within the breast.
The tissue is placed on dry ice immediately and taken to Mathieson, who then
adds it to the bank’s freezers. Tissue
stored in the bank’s liquid-nitrogen tanks
is kept around minus 292 degrees.
Flash freezing it and preventing it from
thawing keeps the tissue from reacting to
the outside conditions and changing in
any way, Clare said.
Above: Bio-specimen manager Theresa
Mathieson removes a tower of breast tissue
samples from a cold storage tank at the
Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank
at the Indiana University Simon Cancer
Center in Indianapolis. Left: Employees put
a sign on a refrigerator at the IU Simon
Cancer Center in Indianapolis.
“We want these samples to be as close
to what they were in the breast as possible,” she said. “We don’t want to introduce anything abnormal.”
‘It’s what I had to do’
Traci Runge, 43, a Carmel resident,
volunteered to donate at one of the bank’s
first collection events in 2007. She was
motivated to give after watching the
mother of one of her cheerleading students struggle with the disease. Runge
and this mom had young children.
“I was very bothered. Here she was
with an infant, and she was sick. And
here I was with an infant, and I was fine,”
Runge said.
She went through the blood draw and
the needle biopsy. The procedure stung
but wasn’t painful for long, Runge said.
“Up to this point, they’ve done all kinds
of research on the tumors themselves but
never really looked at the normal tissue
to find out what changes are made,” she
said. “If I can help save just one life, then
it’s worth it.”
From a research standpoint, Runge
might be the most important donor of all,
Clare said. In early 2010, she was diagnosed
with breast cancer herself. She donated the
cancerous tissue, as well as additional
healthy tissue from her other breast.
Along with the first healthy sample
taken in 2007, Runge presents researchers
a preserved before-and-after picture of
the molecular changes breast cancer can
“The possibilities of what they can
learn is amazing,” Runge said. “If I can
do this as a way to save someone’s life,
especially my three little girls, it’s what I
had to do.”
Protecting and preserving every donation that is made falls to Mathieson, the
specimen manager for the bank. She is in
charge of monitoring the conditions of all
the samples, preparing them for shipping
and logging all of the information in the
Most of the tissue is sent to researchers
around the world, so it’s vital to record
everything from the time of day it was
sampled to the temperature at which it
was frozen.
“When a researcher requests samples,
they know exactly that what they’re
getting has been collected in a very standardized way,” she said. “We know the
history, the circumstances in which it
was collected, and that can affect the
‘Gifts of science’
The tissue bank receives about 15
requests for tissue each year. Research
teams specify what they’re looking for,
depending on the types of women or the
circumstances in which the tissue was
Researchers can access a database of
the bank’s samples online and determine
if the Indiana University Simon Cancer
Center has any tissue that meet their
After submitting a proposal, each
research project is debated by a threeperson panel on the validity of the work.
“These are so precious. They’re gifts of
science, so it’s important that we’re great
stewards with this tissue,” Clare said.
So far, the bank has provided samples
for close to 60 research projects. Scientists at Harvard University, the National
Institutes of Health and the Queensland
Institute of Medical Research in Australia
have used the bank’s tissue to study on
the molecular level.
The Mayo Clinic is on the verge of publishing results that compare the typical
cells in benign tumors to healthy tissue.
IU Simon Cancer Center researchers
have compared healthy samples against
those from women with triple negative
breast cancer. Triple negative breast
cancer doesn’t exhibit the three main
indicators found in cancer genes.
Doctors have been clueless about what
sets these women apart from others who
have breast cancer.
They found hundreds of genes that
differed between normal tissue and the
triple negative tissue. One by one, scientists can examine the genes and possibly
determine a new indicator for these cancers, Clare said.
None of the work has been published
yet, so Clare was hesitant to release any
information about the projects. But she
expects the first round of papers to hit
medical journals this year.
Clare and the bank’s other lead investigator, Dr. Anna Maria Storniola, also are
making records of the DNA of each
woman who has donated to the tissue
bank to see how the genetics of a healthy
woman differ from a woman with breast
‘Cancer takes no prisoners’
A tiny section of every sample is taken
to the tissue bank’s laboratory for examination. Researchers stain the breast
tissue purple, which lets them identify the
milk duct cells underneath a high-powered microscope.
A computerized laser cuts the duct
cells out of the sample, dropping each in
a test tube and sealing it off.
“Cancer starts in the milk duct, so we
want to get it away from everything else,”
Clare said. “When we have it isolated, we
can take it to our sequencing center and
identify its individual DNA.”
Inside the bank’s research lab, Diane
Doxey worked the microscope, culling a
large bank of duct tissue. By using the
computerized laser, Doxey and other
researchers can catalog dozens of samples each day.
Doxey’s experience with breast cancer
motivates her to find a cure. She finished
treatment for the disease this year.
She points to a sign taped on a medical
refrigerator behind her. The handmade
paper reads, “Today could be the day that
you cure cancer!”
“Breast cancer takes no prisoners. You
don’t know who or when it’s going to hit.
At some point, we need to take the money
that comes in, do the right research and
find the practical applications,” Doxey
said. “We think we’re on our way here.”
To do so, the tissue bank needs even
more samples from women, Clare said.
Currently, the bank is struggling to find
minority donors. Only about 3 percent of
the collected samples have come from
black women. Hispanic women make up
only 1 percent.
The solution hopefully will come later
this year. The tissue bank has partnered
with Indianapolis’ Super Bowl Host Committee to organize “Indy’s Super Cure.” The
hope is that the worldwide attention that
will come with the Super Bowl in 2012 will
inspire thousands more women to donate.
Several tissue donation events are
being planned the week before the game,
and organizers plan fundraisers in
“We want to make the bank look like
America, and it doesn’t yet,” Clare said.
“The Super Bowl committee helps us
reach out into those communities.”
s: ry a
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Share the journey of those affected by breast
cancer with Harley-Davidson® Pink Label gear
and apparel. A portion of the proceeds go to
breast cancer support groups.
fC3 c
Pink for a Purpose
IV-lt701 E. County Line Road, Suite 302
Greenwood, IN 46143
317.885.0114 | 800.382.9487
Raymond James & Associates, Inc. - member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC
‘I had no
Woman uses humor to help her cope with disease
ennifer Ebeyer knelt on her bedroom floor praying to
call. But she decided to see her baby sister anyway and just
St. Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer victims.
drove to her place on that Wednesday afternoon.
She clutched her rosary tightly. After a long prayer,
When Schwark, then 36, pulled up in Ebeyer’s driveway, there
she blessed her forehead, lips and heart with holy
were more cars there than usual. She knew right away something
water. She also drew a cross on her right breast with
was wrong.
holy water.
Schwark came in the house. She saw their mother sitting on
She was scared. Within six hours, both her breasts would be
the couch with a worried look. She walked down the hallway. She
removed after three months of chemotherapy at the age of 33.
turned a corner and saw Ebeyer standing.
“I want to live to be 88. God, heal me,” she said.
“I have breast cancer,” Ebeyer told her.
Yet she felt peace behind her fear.
The older sister fell to her knees when she heard those words.
“Everything is God’s will, but we don’t know his will.” Ebeyer
To Schwark, breast cancer meant a death sentence because
said. “If this is how I’m supposed to die, I wanted to get my soul
she still was grieving over a good friend who lost her battle with
the disease at 37.
But then she felt selfish.
She was scared to lose someone to breast cancer again.
“I knew heaven is blissful, but I didn’t want to leave my four
“My whole body was overwhelmed with fear,” she said. “I felt a
young kids behind.”
wrenching pain when I cried.”
Her daughters were 9 and 7, and her sons
Brother-in-law Tony Ebeyer sympathized with
were 4 and 2.
“Before you face death, you think you’re in
“At least it wasn’t one of your kids,” he said.
control,” Ebeyer said. “People go to work and
Ebeyer was relieved for a split-second.
make this amount of money, and you can
But she looked at her mother’s eyes as she held
control how to spend that money.
her hand. Ebeyer started crying and hyperventi“I had no control of this disease. I had to
trust God and the doctors that I had just
“I looked at my mom, and it hurt me because it
was her kid,” Ebeyer said.
Back up six months.
Ebeyer, a Greenwood resident, knew something was wrong when she felt a tingling
Two days after Ebeyer was diagnosed with
soreness in her right breast. She had a breast
breast cancer, she went grocery shopping, trying
exam a month before. At 33, she was too
to be normal.
young for an annual mammogram, and her
She fought to stop her tears. She didn’t want to
doctor didn’t feel any lumps.
start crying in public.
“It’s nothing,” she thought of the feeling.
“I wanted to scream at everyone at the store
Jennifer Ebeyer
She pressed her right breast down with her
that I had cancer,” she said. “They were so busy
left hand, trying to relieve some pressure.
with their lives. I was normal two days ago with
“I’m OK,” she thought. “My breast is just
my busy life.
sore because it’s that time of the month.”
“Any mother who has four children who are two years apart
Weeks passed, and the pain remained.
would say they are busy.”
It was May 2002. Ebeyer just had her annual breast exam in
Before Ebeyer had cancer she always was on the go and made
April with her gynecologist, Dr. Joseph Beardsley. So the doctor
sure her plans were precise. She made lists and outlined what
was surprised when Ebeyer came back in June for another
she needed to do for the day.
She had lists for grocery shopping, people she needed to call
“I knew something was wrong when he felt it,” Ebeyer said.
for work, what house chores to do and where she needed to drop
“He didn’t say a word, and I could tell by his reaction.”
off her kids — from school or day care to gymnastics, karate
The next morning, she went by herself to Franciscan St. Franpractices or piano lessons.
cis Health-Indianapolis for a mammogram.
She organized her kids’ activities with a folder, and each child
With a checklist in hand, the nurse routinely asked Ebeyer
had a tab. She even alphabetized her kitchen pantry.
questions about her medical past.
Ebeyer was the mom who always was with her daughters at
“Does your family have any cancer history?”
their gymnastics classes, so it only made sense to work there.
She became a receptionist at Wright Gymnastics Academy, and
“Are you on birth control pills?”
she still works there but as a manager.
“I made sure I had no time to sit down and watch TV,” she
“Did you breast-feed?”
“Yes, all four of my babies.”
But with cancer, for the first time, she had no control of her
The nurse’s fast pace and steady tone changed when she felt
the 3.2-centimeter tumor on the bottom half of Ebeyer’s right
The radiologist came in the room with the X-ray. He suspected
Ebeyer was diagnosed with hormone receptor positive Stage 2
it was cancer, so he sent her to get a biopsy right away.
breast cancer. That means estrogen hormones are causing the
The thought of cancer terrified Ebeyer; she was in so much
cancer tumor to grow. If she had not listened to her body and
shock that she didn’t feel the needle, the swabbing and the scrapignored the tingling sore pain for a few more months, the cancer
ing during the biopsy.
would have been Stage 3.
But her senses sharpened on her drive back from the hospital.
Dr. Mary Lou Mayer, her oncologist, suggested four rounds of
Ebeyer noticed the grass along the road, the trees, the lines on
chemotherapy before having Ebeyer’s right breast removed.
the road and the sunshine. She had driven on the same roads and
Maddox, Ebeyer’s mom, took notes during doctor visits. She
had seen the same road signs, but her surroundings had gotten a
kept a notebook.
lot more beautiful.
Maddox wanted to make sure she understood everything. She
“All of us think we’ll die when we’re old,” she said. “We don’t
wrote down appointment times, which doctor they talked to, and
always think of mortality.”
what they the doctors said.
After learning she had breast cancer, she realized she could die
She had to understand everything. Her youngest daughter,
at a young age.
Ebeyer, was overwhelmed, scared and usually crying during
Donna Maddox, Ebeyer’s mom, left her work in downtown Indiadoctor visits.
napolis in the middle of the day when she heard the news. She drove
“My role was to be her mom,” Maddox said. “I was trying not
with both hands on the steering wheel; she was tense and anxious.
to panic. I wanted to be the calming person no matter how terri“I wanted to put my arms around her and cry with her,” Madfied I was inside.”
dox said.
Kristen Schwark, Ebeyer’s oldest sister, missed Ebeyer’s phone
I knew
something was
wrong when he
felt it. He
didn’t say a
A busy life
word, and I
could tell by
his reaction.
‘You’re going to be OK’
Jennifer Ebeyer
July 2002 with hormone receptor positive
Stage 2
Chemotherapy, and underwent a double
mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in
one day.
What cancer taught me
To appreciate everything and become closer
to God
How cancer changed me
I’m a lot nicer and much more relaxed, and I
realized I can’t control everything.
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
You can do it.
Pictured: Cancer survivor Jennifer Ebeyer
with her mother, Donna Maddox, and sisters
Kristen Schwark and Melissa Burton in
‘Live life to
the fullest’
Woman demanded normalcy through battle
Jane Cruzan
he couldn’t bear the looks.
Jane Cruzan didn’t want her
co-workers, her friends or strangers to pity her. She didn’t want
their faces to drop and to hear
“poor you.”
So she devised a method for dealing with
the tumor, the surgery and the chemotherapy that would follow in the eight months
after her 1996 diagnosis.
She told as few people as possible in the
beginning, she didn’t discuss it often, and
when it had to be talked about outside her
support group, she’d share the news and
walk away, not giving anyone a chance to
ask questions or give her what she called
“bad attention.”
“I just couldn’t take it, so I was protecting
myself by keeping it to myself,” said Cruzan,
now the catering director at Franklin College.
She didn’t want to be emotional in front of
other people, so first she had to process and
accept the challenge ahead of her.
She looks back on the time she battled
cancer and wonders how her now-grown
children felt while their mom was sick.
She’d make dinner every night and go to
bed, but the cancer rarely was discussed.
Cruzan, who worked in catering sales at
Indiana University in Bloomington, was 46
at the time and wanted to maintain a certain composure in front of her kids, who
were high-school aged. She didn’t want them
to see her in a bad light.
“I wanted them to be proud of me,” she
She relied on a support group to assure
her that how she felt emotionally, how her
feet felt numb and the questions she had
were all normal.
Inside the support group, she could let out
her fears and worries and not burden her
family with them.
Because at home, the cancer wasn’t discussed.
“I still don’t know how they feel about it,”
Cruzan said.
She could fight the terror of how she’d
look and feel with only one breast by talking
to women who only had one breast.
Her breast cancer story shows how much
the treatment of breast cancer and the right
of the patient to have immediate, insurancefunded reconstruction has changed in 15
Breast cancer also changed Cruzan, by
deepening her faith in God and helping her
build more inner strength. Fighting the
tumor redefined who she is.
Cancer made her stronger and more
assertive, she said. She would not feel sorry
for herself.
“Those experiences either build character
or not,” Cruzan said.
Still now, she is overwhelmed at the kindness that was shown her.
Friends and people from church wouldn’t
quit bringing food. The cards with special
notes came continually.
She realizes how much it helps people to
be able to do good for others in their time of
need, and she should never deprive them of
When she had cancer, she worried about
inconveniencing others.
She’d go to her doctor’s office for a blood
draw, receive her chemotherapy, flush her
port and go to work, apologizing for being
She looks back on that time in her life and
remembers feeling like she had to be superwoman, that she had to be strong for her
November 1996 with 3-centimeter tumor in
left breast
Mastectomy and chemotherapy
What cancer taught me
To have compassion for other people. I
think I had compassion before, but it has
given me more.
How cancer changed me
family. Jason Cruzan was in college, and her
three daughters were in high school.
‘What do I do now?’
Jane Cruzan always had had fatty cysts
and expected the lump she felt to be the
same. The mammogram showed something
different. Doctors ordered an ultrasound
then had her come back within a day for a
She didn’t tell her husband or her children. She didn’t want to alarm them. She
was still sure it was nothing.
The call came 48 hours later, and the
radiologist wanted her to come in to the
office. She refused. She wanted to know
right then.
You have cancer, the doctor said.
“What do I do now?” she asked.
Find a surgeon, he said.
She asked a friend for recommendations,
and when the top surgeon wasn’t available,
she went to the next-best. She had a tumor
of almost 3 centimeters, and it likely had
been growing inside her for three to five
Cruzan was given options: have a mastectomy and chemotherapy for the best chances of killing the cancer, or a lumpectomy
and radiation.
She wanted to be practical and simplify
the process. She said to take her breast off.
Still, she hadn’t told her husband.
Two weeks passed, and she finally sent
him an e-mail at work. He was livid.
When she told her children she had cancer, it was matter-of-fact, and her surgery
already was scheduled, her youngest daughter, Leslie Hinman said.
Hinman was a freshman in high school
and was scared the day her mother told
them and the day of her surgery. But otherwise, the family wasn’t preoccupied with
their mother’s cancer, likely because of how
she tried to protect them.
“She wasn’t going to let this dictate how
she lived her life,” Hinman said.
Doctors wanted to remove her breast on a
Friday in December. But Cruzan had scheduled a women’s holiday function and had a
friend coming from out of town. She moved
the surgery to the following Monday, after
the event was over. Her friend stayed with
her at the hospital.
She was released with only one breast.
Fifteen years ago, insurance didn’t pay
for reconstruction. Cruzan could run her
hand over her flat chest and feel her rib
Today, she still struggles with nagging
self-esteem and body image.
After Christmas, she started chemotherapy. A port was installed, and she would
carry it inside her for the next 13 years
because it made blood tests easier since
she had hardened veins. The port was
removed after a fall in 2010 caused it to be
Every day, she had blood drawn for testing. For two weeks, she’d take chemotherapy by pills. Then for two weeks, she’d
receive the drugs through an IV.
Staying busy at work
Every day for six months, she went to
She went by herself because that was
what she wanted to do.
“Being who I was, thinking I was superwoman, I had him (her husband at the time)
take me back to work. I should have gone
home and rested,” she said.
She would arrive at work by 9 a.m., take a
lunch break and go back to work. On particularly hard days, she’d clock out and rest
in the ladies’ room.
Her boss was astounded at her behavior.
For Cruzan, she wanted to keep life as
normal as possible.
She never acted sick. She never complained about chemotherapy, her daughter,
Hinman, said.
Her anti-nausea medicine cost $200 for a
two-week supply, and she couldn’t afford it.
She decided to take the medicine in the
morning, and that she could sleep through
the night-time nausea. Two glasses of wine
before bed would help. That’s turned into a
tradition, she said.
Her fellow church members raised money
to help pay for the medicine, and Cruzan
was taken aback by their generosity. They
I don’t worry about things as much. I do
what I have to do and say what I have to say
and don’t worry. I take care of what needs to
be taken care of. I try to be who I am and be
realistic. When things need to be addressed,
I try to address them in a good way. I try to
take the right side of an issue, and if it isn’t
received well by others, I know I’ve done my
best. I am not afraid to venture out and do
what needs to be done, or say what needs to
be said, for the right reasons.
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
Don’t go through it alone. Get involved with
other cancer patients or reach out to me. No
one should ever have to go through this without support. My experience wasn’t good, but it
wasn’t bad either. So many good things happened along the way. My cancer girlfriends are
like sisters. We are forever connected.
Terror will creep into your heart and mind, so
get involved in a support group. You can learn
from others what you won’t get from doctors,
and they can make you feel normal. We
learned to laugh, we learned to cry together,
we learned we were all going through the
same thing.
Sometimes your husband and your children
won’t understand, but you can be genuine with
your support group. Your spirits can be lifted
for when you go home because they have
helped ease your pain and made you feel
Look for something good to come out of
breast cancer, even though you are going
through a lot of trauma. You can meet new
people, make new close friends, and have a
change in attitude.
Pictured: Breast cancer survivor Jane
Cruzan had a mastectomy and
We have a passion for PINK!
We support the fight000000
against Breast Cancer!
Pink is the new blue.
Always accepting new patients
Nell Thompson, DDS, Lori Shattuck, DDS
Sharon Haley, DDS
Services Include:
Tooth Colored Fillings, crowns, bridges,
Zoom! Whitening, Dentures, Partials, Root
Canals, Extractions, Implants, Veneers.
Franklin Family
Extended Hours
Monday - Thursday 7am - 8:30 pm • Friday 7am - 2pm
1035 W. Jefferson St., Franklin, In 46131
Join IBT and Jeff Saturday in supporting
breast cancer research . Open a new
MyChecking account in October and well
give $10 to Susan G. Komen f or the Cure.
Indiana Bank
&Trust Company
Member FO)C
Determined to
make it
Two-time survivor lost her mother to breast cancer
he mammogram showed a dark
spot, no bigger than a baby pea.
Fran Skillman had to search
to see it on the screen, even as
her doctor pointed it out. The
43-year-old realized that, though
she couldn’t see it, the tumor was there.
She had assumed that someday she’d be
diagnosed. Her mother also was 43 when
she learned she had ductal carcinoma and
died within a year.
“It always sat in the back of my mind. But
to know what happened to my mom, and to
be the same age as her, I was terrified,” she
While her mother lost her battle with
breast cancer, Skillman has beaten it twice.
The southside resident has lived through
two cases of ductal carcinoma diagnosed 14
years apart and has used her experiences to
help raise awareness and money to find a
“I never thought that I wasn’t going to
survive. You have to keep that in your mind,
that you’re going to beat it, it’ll go away,
and hopefully it’ll never come back again,”
she said.
Skillman started getting mammograms
when she was 34 because of her family
history with the disease. At the time, doctors recommended waiting until a woman
was 40 to start the yearly scans.
Without that vigilance, doctors might not
have caught her cancer until it had become
much worse, Skillman said. Nine years of
mammograms provided doctors a picture of
the developing tumor, which could be seen
as a dark mark.
“I truly believed that’s what saved me,”
she said.
A needle biopsy would determine for sure,
but from the mammogram, it looked to be
malignant, said oncologist, Dr. Keith Logie
of the Central Indiana Cancer Center.
But the mass was so small that nurses
couldn’t find it during the biopsy. For 30
painful minutes, they searched around with
an 8-inch needle. When nurses still couldn’t
find it, they suggested that Skillman go
home and come back in a few weeks.
“I remember saying, ‘I’m not leaving. I
know it’s there. It was on the ultrasound; it
didn’t just disappear,’” she said. “I insisted,
and it was a good thing, because they ultimately found it.”
‘Got me through’
The tumor had been caught early. Though
it was malignant, it had not spread to her
lymph nodes and was contained within her
Logie recommended a lumpectomy to
remove the cancerous tissue and 40 doses of
Logie explained that treating breast cancer had progressed exponentially since her
mother’s death. Her chances of survival
were much improved.
“We felt confident in the care. The medical treatment for cancer is so much better
these days than back then. The combination
of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation
made it a much more curable disease,” said
Don Skillman, Fran’s husband.
Don Skillman attended every doctor’s
appointment. He handled buying the groceries, cooking and cleaning the house while
she recovered.
On days when her body ached and she
barely had the energy to get up off of the
couch, she’d feel frustration welling up. So
she would find someone to talk to.
Fran Skillman
1992 and 2006 with ductal carcinoma
The first time, she had a lumpectomy
and received 40 radiation treatments.
The second time she had 5½ months of
chemotherapy and a mastectomy one
month after treatment.
What cancer taught me
Cancer taught me there are no
guarantees, life is a gift.
“If something was bothering me, I talked
about it. That’s what got me through,” she
Often, the couple would sit together while
Fran Skillman talked about her doubts that
the treatment was working or annoyances
that she had gone through at the doctor’s
office. Don Skillman simply would sit back
and listen.
“We shared the experience together. Whatever she was going through, I tried to put
myself right there,” Don Skillman said.
Skillman finished her treatment, and
scans revealed that all the cancer cells had
been killed.
Skillman found that on the days when she
felt the worst, her solace could be found on
the golf course.
She tried to play three or four times a
week in the morning or after work.
Out on the course’s first tee box, sizing up
the hole located 345 yards away, the complications of chemotherapy seemed to fade to
the background.
“You’re not thinking about anything else
of what’s going on outside of that moment,”
she said. “When you have an interest in
something else, you can put all of your focus
in that and forget about cancer for a few
‘I survived’
Speaker and fundraiser
For 14 years, Skillman didn’t have as
much as a scare. Doctors exams, first coming every three months, then six months
and finally every year, passed without incident.
So when Logie told her the cancer had
returned in the same breast, it was devastating.
“Being clean for so long, you allow yourself to relax and think that it’s gone. I survived,” she said. “But it comes back.”
This tumor was even smaller than the
first, only about 3 millimeters across. But
because it was a second occurrence, the
treatment would be more intense and stringent, Logie said.
Skillman would need to have her right
breast removed, and she’d need five months
of chemotherapy.
Logie gave her the option to get the chemotherapy before having surgery, to see if it
would have any effect on the tumor. She
chose to do so.
“I wanted to get the treatment started, no
waiting. By the time we had finished the
chemotherapy and had the mastectomy, all
of the cancer had been killed,” she said.
Every Thursday, she took a day off work
as an assistant in the pro shop at Martinsville Golf Club to receive treatments. The
chemotherapy chemicals didn’t make her
lose her hair or cause the nausea that is
common in other patients.
For Skillman, the worst aspect was mouth
sores. Her mouth would become so dry, that
the insides of her cheeks and her gums
would become brittle and crack. Eating was
so painful that she only could drink liquids.
Skillman was declared cancer-free in May
2007 after chemotherapy and surgery. She
still visits Logie for regular appointments to
ensure the cancer hasn’t returned in her left
After the second round of treatments,
Skillman funneled her energy into helping
other women survive their battles with the
For the past five years, she has combined
her love of golf with her desire to help other
women affected by breast cancer. She organized the Tee It Up for Breast Cancer golf
outing, an annual event conducted at The
Legends Golf Club in Franklin.
The event brought in more than $12,000
last year, 99 percent of which will go to
breast cancer research at the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center.
Skillman also has volunteered to speak to
friends and family about breast cancer.
She’s been asked by women who have been
diagnosed, as well as spouses and children,
about how they can best help their loved
ones get through the ordeal.
Her primary point is to make sure whoever is going through treatment feels confident in their doctors. Without faith in their
physicians, the process can wear on your
already battered nerves, she said.
While her insights can be helpful, the
most important thing is just being available
to talk, like her husband and other family
members were during her treatment.
“When you have to talk to someone, to
voice your opinions or feelings, it’s kind of
nice to talk to someone who’s been there,”
she said.
Remember those who have lost the battle
Support those who are still fighting
Celebrate with those who have won their battle
Lets never stop fighting.
How cancer changed me
For me, I have become more tolerant,
patient and respectful to my colleagues,
family and friends. I’m thankful, proud
of those who helped me and confident
toward my future.
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
You need faith, love and a positive
attitude. You gain strength from your
family, friends and most of all from
trust in your doctors and their cancer
treatment center staff.
Pictured: Two-time breast cancer
survivor Fran Skillman at her
Indianapolis home.
We Support The Fight Against Breast Cancer!
See Us For Your Recreational Therapy
14 ,'
.. i lo w
Street ,
595 E. Tracy Rd., Whiteland, IN 46184
(317) 535-3700
A new
Tumor gene tests discover pathways to treatment
reast cancer patients treated
at two southside hospitals
could be helping to find
treatments for women
across the country with the
same type of cancer.
Tumors removed during a mastectomy or
lumpectomy can be shipped to a center in
Arizona, where they are studied for how
they respond to certain drugs and treatments. With enough testing, researchers
could find that a specific treatment can be
extremely beneficial for a certain type of
cancer, said Dr. Jeffrey Mossler, pathologist
at Community Health Network.
Community Health Network, which
includes Community Hospital South on
County Line Road, and Franciscan St.
Francis Health-Indianapolis have been
sending tissue samples to be studied for
The International Genomics Consortium in Arizona recently received a grant
to expand and extend that research, and
both Community Hospitals and St. Francis agreed to continue sending samples
there, he said.
The research project helps doctors and
hospitals move toward the goal of individualized treatments for patients, Mossler said.
“For about the last eight to 10 years,
we’ve been moving into an era of personalized medicine. Prior to that time,
patients would all be treated the same,”
Mossler said.
Drugs and treatment plans are part of
that new movement, he said.
In recent years, doctors and research-
I think we’re in the early steps of the next phase
of oncology and tumor treatment. It’s not quite
ready for prime time, but we’re approaching that.
Dr. Steven Clark
Franciscan St. Francis pathologist
ers have found that hundreds of cancer
medications are effective in only 5 to 10
percent of patients. So they often don’t
get used, he said.
But with more testing, researchers
could figure out what cancers are best
treated by certain drugs and then use
that information to best treat cancer
patients, Mossler said.
“If you actually knew the group who
would respond, you might see significant
responses,” Mossler said.
The research isn’t only for breast cancer patients. Other samples have included
lung, colon and pancreatic cancers, Mossler said.
The tissue is collected by surgeons.
Research coordinators look at the hospitals’ surgery schedules daily, seeing if
any of the surgeries they have scheduled
are cancer-related. A pathologist then
will examine the tissue once it is removed
to make sure it is not damaged and is a
large enough sample that it can be used
for research, Mossler said.
If the piece is large enough, it is immediately frozen and will be sent to the lab
in Arizona, marked with general information about the patient, such as sex and
age, for research.
The sample has to be flash frozen within 30 minutes of being removed in order
to prevent some of the genetic material
from breaking down, said Dr. Steven
Clark, a pathologist for Franciscan St.
Before any tissue is sent, the research
coordinator will get the patient’s consent,
which commonly is given, Mossler said.
At the lab in Arizona, the tissue samples go through a full genetic sequencing,
breaking down the specific information
about the genetic code of that specific
type of cancer. The cancerous tissue also
can be compared to normal tissue to look
for mutations, he said.
That information all goes into a database, which is used by researchers across
the country.
“The whole project is trying to develop
a dictionary of genetic abnormalities of
tumors, and make that available to customize a treatment,” Clark said.
Between St. Francis and Community,
the hospitals have sent close to 1,000
tissue samples to Arizona for study. But
how that information is used varies based
on what a researcher is studying, Mossler
“It is there for people to access that
information, to ask and answer any questions. What they want to know depends on
the research interest of that person,” he
For example, a drug company might
have a medication that treats a certain
mutation. So the company might want to
see how often that mutation occurs in a
certain type of cancer to see how many
patients could benefit from that drug,
Mossler said.
Doctors already have seen certain
drugs be beneficial in breast cancer
patients. For example, about 15 years
ago, doctors identified the gene called
HER-2 and found that when those
women were given Herceptin they had a
dramatically better response to treatment, he said.
Now, doctors regularly test for that
information, but only since that gene was
identified. With further research, more
genes and mutations like that can be
found, he said.
“Every six months or so, there is something new we learn about the genetic
makeup,” he said.
Clark has seen the progress in mapping
the genetic makeup of tumors. When
researchers understand how different
cancers are formed at the molecular
level, they can begin to develop ways to
treat them.
That process is years away.
“I think we’re in the early steps of the
next phase of oncology and tumor treatment. It’s not quite ready for prime time,
but we’re approaching that,” Clark said.
Staff writer Ryan Trares contributed to this
Supporting the fight against breast cancer
Supporting our
family and friends
Greenwood S.R. 135
Greenwood Park Mall
graft, Mike Wood, Patrick
Front (L -R): Pam Wood, Am
Wood Auto Repair
750 Tracy Rd. New Whiteland • 535-3022
Mike & Pam Wood, Owners
First Merchants Bank
Local. Trusted. Serving You.
That’s the Credit Union difference.
I i
Carol Johnson,
Visit to learn more.
Gail Goettler,
1030 E. County Line Rd., Suite B-2 • Indianapolis, IN 46227
We started a credit union
and created a community.
IU Credit Union
8936 Southpointe Dr., Ste. C-6
Teaching others
how to live
Woman beats odds by focusing on living life
ight years ago, she was diagnosed with a rare form
of breast cancer that quickly can spread to other
parts of the body.
Five years ago, she was put on hospice care
when her liver wasn’t working right and was cancer-ridden.
Four years ago, she was told she had six months to a year to
Three years ago, she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain
Jean Bowe, 48, continues to fight past her doctor’s expectations. After she exceeded the last prediction of her lifespan, her
doctors stopped giving her estimates.
In 2003, Bowe noticed her right breast was swollen and knew
something was wrong. A first test was inconclusive, but she knew
what it was — the same cancer a friend had died from years
Bowe was diagnosed in 2003 with inflammatory breast cancer,
which also was HER-2 positive, making it a rare, aggressive form
of cancer that often returns and can spread to the brain.
Since then, the cancer spread to her liver, pancreas and brain.
She has been through two rounds of chemotherapy, radiation,
Herceptin and a drug not yet approved by the Food and Drug
Administration, for which she is part of a clinical trial.
But instead of focusing on having Stage 4 cancer, Bowe lives
her life.
She takes trips with her family. She exercises and does yoga.
She doesn’t act like a sick person.
Her attitude has impressed her doctor and amazed her companion of 22 years, Stephany Jenkins.
“She really is the inspiration. She is what people need to know
is possible. It doesn’t have to be gloom and doom,” Jenkins said.
Bowe shrugs off the compliments, saying she isn’t the type of
person to get depressed. She is too optimistic.
“I’ve never been a depressed person. I don’t like to think negatively,” Bowe said.
And it doesn’t hurt that she feels healthy, she said.
Over the past eight years, that hasn’t always been the case.
Her condition can change quickly.
In 2006, she went to the hospital with stomach pains and 16
days later was sent home in a hospital bed on hospice care.
Jenkins remembers specialists taking her onto the porch of her
home and telling her that Bowe would be in a coma within two
weeks and be gone within six weeks.
Mason, their 13-year-old son, said that if she died, he just
wanted a place where he could take her flowers.
The weekend was filled with people coming to visit.
Through it all, Bowe stayed strong, Jenkins said.
“She stayed really strong. I think she was stronger than most
people around,” Jenkins said.
Her liver function started to improve. By the start of the following week, doctors said she had improved enough to have another
round of chemotherapy to treat the cancer that had attacked her
Everyone still was uncertain, but Bowe knew she would make
“I knew I wasn’t going to die, but no one else thought that,”
Bowe said.
‘Don’t ever want to give up’
Earlier this year, she spent more than a week in the hospital
when a clogged bile duct led to an infection.
“It’s been crazy like that, where I get really sick, then I’m
fine,” Bowe said.
The uncertainty and ups and downs can be hard on the family,
Jenkins said.
“In those moments, it’s pretty hard, but it gets better,” Jenkins
said. “You have to get yourself to a point where you know you
could survive it, but you don’t ever want to give up.”
Through it all, Bowe has stayed strong, making it easier on all
of them, she said.
“If Jean wasn’t so good, if she fell into being sickly, it would be
a lot harder, and I’m not sure she would be here,” Jenkins said.
Bowe’s cancer is controlled well with drugs, and although doctors
typically don’t use the word remission, testing has shown no active
cancer in her body, said Dr. Anna Maria Storniolo, Bowe’s doctor.
“The drug has literally managed to put a lid on it,” she said.
Bowe’s treatment is with a drug that is part of a clinical trial.
The drug, called TDM-1, attaches a chemotherapy drug to
Herceptin, which commonly is used in patients who are HER-2
positive. By attaching the drug to Herceptin, that allows the
treatment to target her cancer and have little impact on her
other organs, meaning she can stay on the treatment longer,
Storniolo said.
Bowe wanted to do the clinical trial after her body responded
well to Herceptin in 2003, which at the time also was not
approved for use in all cancer patients.
She researched Herceptin and asked Storniolo about it at every
visit. She knew the drug could help her, even though it was recommended only for certain patients at that time, Bowe said.
“I’m just trying to stay alive, so I’ve got to research all that,”
Bowe said.
Jean Bowe
‘Leave with no regrets’
Chemotherapy, double mastectomy, removal
of ovaries, radiation, Herceptin and now a
trial drug called TDM-1
Storniolo was concerned because of the risk of side effects but
finally agreed.
Since then, Herceptin has been approved for use in all HER2-positive breast cancer patients. Bowe believes once this new
drug makes it through the clinical trial, it also could be helpful to
many other people.
Bowe researches her condition and speaks up about her treatments, the type of patient Storniolo said she likes to have. She
wants patients to be involved in their care, because sometimes
they bring up ideas she hadn’t thought of, she said.
“I’m much more comfortable with a doctor-patient relationship
that is truly a relationship, not just they agree with me,” Storniolo said.
She also appreciates Bowe’s outlook, that even with cancer, she
will continue to live her life, however long that might be.
Storniolo expects Bowe to be around for years but can’t predict
how long she will live. But she already has beaten the odds after
having her cancer travel to her brain, which usually means a
patient will live a few months.
Even with that uncertainty, Bowe doesn’t let cancer rule her
life, part of the reason she is a joy to have as a patient, Storniolo
“If and when the time comes, she will leave with no regrets.
It’s patients like Jean who on a daily basis teach me how to live
my life,” Storniolo said.
Bowe is confident that though her cancer is aggressive and
doctors have told her she will die fighting this disease, it also is
easily controlled.
‘It’s not always the end’
She still struggles some days.
She has been near death and lost friends who couldn’t handle a
long battle with cancer.
Bowe doesn’t make plans more than six months out.
She has gone from feeling fine to lying in a hospital bed more
than once, and she just doesn’t know how much time she has, she
But for her family, she tries to keep life normal. She quit her
job with AT&T when her appointments became difficult to keep
while working.
That extra time has allowed the family to take trips like they
always wanted, to Italy, Ireland, Hawaii and Mexico.
They live their lives daily. If her cancer returns, they move
ahead with a treatment plan.
“I try not to act any different. I try to act the same as always
so they don’t see that I am fearful. It helps them,” Bowe said.
But there are many days when she doesn’t think about her
cancer at all.
After two rounds of radiation treatments in the past three
years, tests have shown Bowe’s brain tumor is shrinking. And the
trial drug she is taking, which isn’t able to get to the brain, is
controlling cancer in the rest of her body, she said.
Her battle with cancer hasn’t been what she expected, especially
in her first days of chemotherapy treatment when she saw patients
huddled under blankets and wondered if that would be her.
She shares her story so that other patients, even those who are
Stage 4 like her, won’t give up.
“It’s not always the end, even if you have a terrible diagnosis.
You’re still going to die when you’re supposed to. I don’t think
I’m going for a while,” Bowe said.
December 2003 with inflammatory breast
cancer, HER-2 positive, Stage 4
What cancer taught me
You can’t take life for granted. Pay attention
to the things that are really important, and
don’t get upset about the little things.
Separate what is real from what is causing
chaos. Family and friends are what is really
How cancer changed me
I feel things deeper than I did before. Life
seems more precious than it did before. It
has opened up my eyes to what we are really
here for.
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
Pick a doctor you really like. Do research.
Don’t get depressed, and try to stay positive.
Don’t go through it alone.
Pictured: Cancer patient Jean Bowe and
companion Stephany Jenkins talk with Dr.
Anna Maria Storniolo at the Indiana
University Medical Center in Indianapolis.
‘The fight of your life’
Woman finds inspiration in terminally ill children
uring Nicole Kent’s worst
moments, when every part of
her body ached, when yet another attempt to reconstruct her
breast failed, she thought of
The children, all 250 of them, who were
going to die or suffer for years. At this point,
some of them were probably already gone.
She had given them glamorous hairstyles,
adding curls and putting rhinestones on their
faces. With each stroke of the brush, Kent,
now 31, had thought about how they’d never go
to prom, they’d never have that first kiss.
They taught her to be thankful for her
healthy son and the fact that she likely would
survive. They taught her to be happy and have
a great attitude, even when life has been
If they can continue to eke happiness out of
a life ending too soon, she can get through
breast cancer, she thought.
“If it wasn’t for them coping with their situation so well, I don’t think I could have dealt
with mine as well as I did,” she said.
Kent, who lives in the Center Grove area,
had felt a lump. But she let the days tick by.
Surely she didn’t have breast cancer, she
She was 30 years old and had a son.
Cancer kills, and she couldn’t die.
The days started to add up. She had her
mother feel the lump, which was about the
size of her pinky fingernail. Three weeks, then
four, went by.
She put off seeing a doctor and used an
upcoming trip to California as an excuse. She’d
been one of 10 stylists selected in the spring of
2010 to go to Los Angeles for the Lollipop Theater Network Game Day at Nickelodeon Animation Studio.
For one day that May, she helped style the
hair of 250 terminally ill children. Then they
walked the purple carpet, met stars and played
One girl was in a wheelchair. She told Kent
she planned to become an actress. A bald
3-year-old let Kent put rhinestones on her.
She came home inspired by what she’d seen.
The lump was still there and growing. Six
months had passed, and her mother started
making threats. If Kent didn’t do something
about the lump, she’d start figuring out what
she could do as her mother to get her care.
“She didn’t want to say, ‘I have cancer,’” her
mother, Debbie Browning, said. “She relates
cancer to death, and who wants to die? Especially when you have a son. She didn’t want
someone else to raise him.”
She made three or four doctor appointments
but panicked and canceled each one.
Finally she went, and doctors acted quickly.
In hindsight, Kent is grateful that she had
received breast implants six years prior. The
implants had pushed the lump forward and
made her be able to feel it, she said.
Without that, she’d have been a decade away
from a mammogram.
And without that, she might be dead.
She had a whirlwind mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy.
Then came the diagnosis while she was
styling a client’s hair: She had a very aggressive form of breast cancer.
Come in tomorrow to plan the attack, she
was told.
‘It’s painful’
She had to tell her son, Jackson, who was
preparing to enter second grade at West Grove
Elementary School.
He was convinced she’d be fine. She wasn’t
so sure.
But she remembered the children from the
UCLA Medical Center and felt lucky to have a
healthy child. She knew she had to fight and
want to live for him.
He wanted a handheld recorder for his birthday that summer. The gift was perfect. At the
end of the party, she recorded a message for
her son about how much she loved him.
Her mind was riddled with fear that it would
be the last birthday she’d share with him.
He watched her struggle through chemo-
Nicole Kent
Center Grove area
July 22, 2010, with Stage 2 triple
negative lump in right breast.
Chemotherapy, double
What cancer taught me
I don’t take things for granted,
and I don’t count on tomorrow. I
appreciate people regardless of
their faults, and I don’t take
advantage of them.
How cancer changed me
Cancer has humbled me. It’s
made me appreciate people a lot
more. It definitely has changed
my life for the better.
What I would tell someone
just diagnosed with cancer
therapy. He always repeated that the doctors
and medicine would make his mom better. He
believed it with all his heart.
The plan was for four months of chemotherapy and a lumpectomy. Doctors found cancer
in one lymph node and took out 20 of them.
“The wind could blow, and it’s painful,” she
She sobbed. When her pink-and-white
Mohawk started falling out, her husband
shaved her head. She snapped at her son and
felt guilty over what he was going though.
She continued working her normal Thursday
through Saturday shift at a salon and rested
for four days each week.
Halfway through, doctors no longer could
see the cancer. A lumpectomy was scheduled.
Then, the first setback. Kent had received a
vaccination and had a bad reaction. Her body
was wracked in pain. In the emergency room,
a doctor ordered a CAT scan of her tailbone to
make sure the cancer hadn’t spread.
Kent froze.
“That sealed it,” she said. “I never want to
hear that come out of another doctor’s mouth
again,” she said.
She opted for a double mastectomy and
implants in January.
Kent thought her ordeal was over. In the
spring, she used a heating pad on a stomach
ache but fell asleep. The heating pad shifted,
and since she had no feeling in her new
breasts, she was burned. A blister formed, and
she popped it.
An infection raged and spread to the other
breast. She ignored it too long and didn’t take
all of her antibiotics for it, and eventually the
only option was to take one implant out.
A tissue expander was put in, but that
became infected as well and was removed two
weeks later. She wonders if she is prone to
infection because most of her lymph nodes
were removed or if the expander was put in
before all the previous infection was cleared.
Now, a tissue expander surgery is scheduled
again this month.
‘It just takes time’
Her husband, T.J. Kent, tries to make her
feel special, even though she feels self con-
scious about having one breast, being bald and
gaining weight.
Sometimes, he acts as though everything
should be fine, since the cancer is gone, Kent
said of her husband. While she was ill, he
cared for her, their home and their son.
“But it just takes time,” Kent said.
She struggles with taking control of her health
care. Chemotherapy often causes weight gain,
and the medicine causes side effects.
As her medication is reduced, she is getting
stronger and stronger, her mom said. She is
learning to repair her body and rejuvenate
She depends on her family more than she
ever has before but is taking her own place
again, Browning said.
Because, Browning said, “for a whole year,
she has slept.”
She lost the months before her diagnosis
when the growing lump was ruling her every
day but being ignored.
She slept for days each week, nearly comalike, during chemotherapy and would awaken
and feel out of touch with everything.
“It has taken a few years of her life,” Browning said. “She is just now starting to get strong
again where she wants to be around people
and do things.”
And with that comes new goals.
She would like to help bring a program for
ill children to central Indiana and thinks her
son could help other children who have ill
family members.
During treatment, she remembers watching
a video of what appeared to be a 101-year-old
woman talk about breast cancer.
She wants to find a way to help women of all
ages know what to expect. The videos and
literature need to be designed for women who
are in college, who are having babies, who still
want to have babies, who are still intimate
with their partners, Kent said.
She wants to help present the raw truth
about chemotherapy, and she doesn’t want
anyone to sugarcoat it.
“I want the God’s awful truth,” she said. “I
want people to know you’re up for the fight of
your life.”
Don’t give up. Build a huge support system and use it. Be honest
with your kids. You don’t have to
hide cancer; you might be able to
help someone.
Pictured: Breast cancer survivor
Nicole Kent had a double
mastectomy to treat the lump
in her right breast.
t Breast Cancer Awaren
We S
Shoe Repair
with an Italian feel.
tr: r rrH
$10 off
extra comfort
Pictured above: Nick & Dominic Mina
Hakky Instant Shoe Repair is run by
father and son team Nick and Dominic Mina,
keeping the family tradition.
Dave & Debbie Brown
50 N. Eisenhower Dr.
'%Pair& ComWl"'
$5 off
Greenwood Park Mall
next to Von Maur | 317.881.0672 |
‘Blessings in tragedies’
Survivor strived for normalcy to deal with disease
henever Tanya Hawkins
looks at her newborn
daughter, Myla, she
thinks of the miracle that
was never supposed to
Breast cancer supposedly had stolen her
dreams of having another child. After
being diagnosed in 2007, her oncologist
told her the 16 rounds of chemotherapy
would make her sterile.
Doctors even suggested getting her
ovaries removed to prevent potentially
dangerous hormones from being released
in her body.
For more than a year, Hawkins, a
Franklin resident, had suffered through
chemotherapy, radiation and a double
mastectomy. She always had thought that
if she survived her bout with breast cancer, it would be like starting a new life.
The birth of Myla in September 2010 is
proof of that.
“You never know what blessings can
come out of tragedies,” she said.
Hawkins was 34 years old when she was
diagnosed. She found the lump herself in
her right breast. She said it felt like a pea
under the skin.
Concerned but not overly frightened,
she went to her gynecologist to have the
lump examined. The doctor assured her
that because she was so young, it most
likely wasn’t cancer. Just to be safe,
though, he sent her to see Dr. S. Chace
Lottich, a breast surgeon based in Greenwood.
Hawkins drove to the appointment by
herself, still assured that the lump was
nothing to worry about. She went into the
examining room and got a mammogram.
Her concern began to mount as doctors
asked her to stay at the clinic for more
mammograms. Nurses kept bringing her
back in for additional mammograms and
tests and then had her wait while they
examined the results.
Finally, Lottich told her she would need
to biopsy the lump that afternoon.
“The doctor told me, ‘I don’t like what I
see. We need to do this today. I already
contacted your insurance; let’s go ahead
and get this done,’” she said.
The diagnosis came four days later. The
6-millimeter tumor was invasive ductal
carcinoma. The growth had broken the
boundaries of the cell, so there was a
Tanya Hawkins
August 2007 with Stage 3 invasive ductal
Chemotherapy, double mastectomy,
What cancer taught me
chance it had spread to her lymph nodes.
“It was an out-of-body experience. It
was so hard to concentrate while they
were talking, and the doctor kept giving
me brochures for this and for that,” she
said. “Everything had that pink ribbon on
it, and I remember being disgusted. I
didn’t want that.”
From the start, Hawkins refused to
serve as an advertisement for breast
cancer. She didn’t wear pink or become a
crusader for the cause. Her purpose was
to act as normally as possible, to keep her
life balanced like it had been before her
“It’s not that I don’t support the breast
cancer cause, but I don’t want to be a
banner for it. I had cancer. It’s in my past,
let’s move forward. I don’t want to wear it
on my chest,” she said.
Hawkins turned to family to help her
through the ordeal. She called her younger sister, Veronica Flagle, and told her the
diagnosis. Flagle in turn called their older
Daughter copes with anger, fear
he noise outside
her room made
Haley Schofield
jump out of her bed
and run to the door
in excitement.
The 9-year-old had been
waiting for her mother, Tanya
Hawkins, to feel better since
she had come home from her
first chemotherapy treatment
that day. She wanted to hug her,
even for a second. She had been
so scared.
But she couldn’t process
what she found. Her mother
was crawling, dragging herself
to the bathroom to be sick. Her
eyes were sunken and redrimmed, and her skin was
“I heard her door open, and I
was so excited because I hadn’t
seen her. Then I saw her face,
as she was crawling, and we
locked eyes. It was so hard,”
she said.
Haley hasn’t forgotten that
night, even four years after it
happened. Now 13 years old and
able to understand more clearly
what her mom was going
through, she can reflect more
clearly on the disease and her
mother’s experience.
But it doesn’t diminish the
feeling of helplessness that
came with it.
“I was angry. Why did it have
to be my mom?” she said.
Even before her mother was
diagnosed in 2007, Haley had
been exposed to breast cancer
and the damage it can do. Her
third-grade teacher at Creekside Elementary School in
Franklin, Nicole Ankney, had
been diagnosed while she was
in her class. Ankney died the
following year.
Tanya Hawkins had sat her
daughter down and tried to
explain what cancer was and
what Ankney had been going
through but struggled to
explain it to her.
“She was my favorite teacher,
and I didn’t know why she
would be leaving,” Haley said.
When she came home from
school one day the next year,
and her mother, grandparents
and aunts were gathered
together, she had the feeling
that the disease that had struck
her favorite teacher had
affected someone in her family.
“They didn’t even have to tell
me. I ran straight to my room
crying,” she said.
At first, Haley was mad. She
acted out around her mother
and was moody and sullen. She
didn’t want to see Hawkins.
Eventually, she began to
grasp that this wasn’t her
mom’s fault. But she still
struggled to process what was
After the initial shock of the
chemotherapy treatments, as
Hawkins’ hair was falling out,
Haley avoided her mother. She
would come home from school
and go straight to her room.
She started struggling with her
schoolwork, and her teachers
said she was distracted.
“I’ve always been a very
nervous kid; and when I’m
nervous, my stomach hurts. My
stomach hurt most of that
year,” she said.
By then, both she and her
mom were living with Hawkins’
parents, Bennie and Bernice
Reed. Haley felt like her entire
existence had been shaken.
“I think I blocked a lot of it
out. I don’t remember a lot,”
she said.
Haley had a classmate at
Creekside whose mother had
been treated for breast cancer.
Whenever Haley would try to
talk about it to the girl, her
concerns were brushed aside.
“Every time we tried to talk
about it, it was like she didn’t
understand what I was going
through,” she said. “I didn’t
have anyone to talk about it
Now that she’s older and her
mom has completed the
treatment, Haley has a better
understanding of the disease.
She has been active in the Race
for the Cure every year since
her mother was diagnosed and
participated in Relay for Life,
an American Cancer Society
The eighth-grader at Franklin Community Middle School
also understands that her
chances of being diagnosed are
significant. Besides her mother,
Haley’s paternal grandmother
also was diagnosed with breast
“It’s scary,” she said quietly.
Cancer taught me that my breasts didn’t and
don’t define who I am. To take nothing for
granted and value each and every moment of
my life. That housework can wait, spend
time with your kids, enjoy them and hug
them every chance you get. It taught me that
people are good. I saw kindness from so
many people; it was beyond anything I
could’ve imagined. Finally, rely on your faith.
It never fails.
I think cancer teaches you what’s important
in life. You learn that every day you have is a
gift from God. I have learned to try and see
the good in every situation life deals you
because no matter how bad I thought things
were, something would happen that was a
blessing to me.
How cancer changed me
My priorities have changed. I value people in
my life more than the things. I love them differently, maybe a deeper love because I am
aware of how quickly your life can change.
My faith definitely has been strengthened
through cancer. It is what got me through
each day and still does.
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
Stay positive. It’s a long journey, but keep
your head up and stay positive. People will
want to help you; let them. It’s OK to need
help, and remember there is hope. I look at
my daughter, Myla, and think “What a blessing” after all I go through. I would also
encourage them to hold on to their faith. It
never fails you.
Pictured: Breast cancer survivor Tanya
Hawkins with daughters Myla, 1, and Haley
Schofield, 13, in their Franklin home.
the fight
fzxxx x
sa 0 nf s pa
Voted Indy’s
8083 A Madison Ave., Indianapolis Best Day Spa
(317) 882-1773
in ‘07, ‘08, ‘09,
‘10, and ‘11
‘Make every day count’
Man’s ordeal inspires another
ark Boas thanks a man
and the color pink for
saving his life from a disease he thought only
affected women.
In October 2010, a pink
newspaper at his mother’s house caught
Boas’ attention. The Oct. 15 edition of The
Republic contained a special breast cancer awareness section, and the entire
paper was the color that has become synonymous with the cause.
But had it not been for a story about
Hope resident Larry Shepherd’s ordeal
with breast cancer, Boas might have continued to ignore a lump in his sore left
breast that had been bugging him for a
“I didn’t dream I’d get it,” said Boas, a
56-year-old Columbus resident. “If he hadn’t
been in the paper, if it was just women, I
never would have thought about it.”
Instead, Boas became concerned. His
older sister contracted breast cancer, and
a cousin died from it.
Within a month, Boas went to a health
clinic for a mammogram. An abnormal
result prompted the need for a biopsy. A
positive result for breast cancer necessitated a mastectomy on Dec. 22, followed
by chemotherapy starting in January and
radiation starting in August.
Choice of apartments
with a variety of floor
plans and sizes
Apartments can be
individualized with
your own belongings.
Mark Boas
The past year has been a whirlwind for
Boas, but he said he’s at peace with the
fact that he has breast cancer.
“Once I knew the truth, I knew what I’ve
got to do,” he said.
Boas first noticed how sore his left
breast was in September 2010, when leaned
over a toolbox on his truck to get a tool he
needed for a construction job. He didn’t
think too much of the pain.
When he read Shepherd’s story a month
later, he reconsidered what the pain could
mean and took action.
A Dec. 7 telephone call from Tammy
Creech, a nurse navigator at Columbus
Regional Hospital’s Breast Health Center,
confirmed what was suspected after the
mammogram and biopsy: Boas had early
Stage 3 breast cancer — which meant it
had not spread throughout his body.
“His reaction was really positive, like
it’s just something I’ve got to take care of,
Our Keepsake Village
offers those with
Alzheimer’s and
other dementias the
opportunity to receive
the quality care they
need with the dignity
they deserve.
December 2010
Mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation
Pictured: Breast cancer has slowed down
Mark Boas, but only a little. Between
radiation treatments, one of Boas’ jobs is to
perform swimming pool maintenance.
Pleasant Surprises Await You
at a Hearth Community
j ff
The Hearth at Stones Crossing offers something for everyone.
Our residents have the independence they want along with
comfort in knowing that if needed, personal care and support
services can be tailored to their individual needs.
Stones Uirossing
is proud to support
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Premier Senior Living
2339 South SR 135, Greenwood, IN 46143 | (317) 300-5748
Keeping our
community strong
Franklin College
Supports Breast Cancer
Awareness Month
1. .
is theheart
of what we do.
hrough thick and thin, Heartland Community Bank has
always been there for the residents of Johnson County. We
understand the value of a strong community and we’re here to
keep it that way. And that’s why we’ve decided to participate
in the Think Pink effort to raise awareness about breast cancer.
It’s known that an early detection can yield an early cure. With
more than 200,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer each
year, it’s clear there’s more work to be done and all the more
reason to help the cause. It’s just another way we work hard
every day to make a difference to our customers and in our
community. It’s a whole new way to experience banking. See
for yourself by visiting us online at
or by stopping by any of our six convenient locations today.
507 Three Notch Lane
420 N. Morton
Greenwood East
2433 East Main Street
Greenwood West
489 S. State Road135
101 Branigin Boulevard, Franklin, Indiana 46131
Phones: (317) 738-8185 or (800) 852-0232
Greenwood South
AF Community Bank
800 US 31 South
New Whiteland
215 N. US 31
‘I don’t know how
she does it’
Woman sees struggle as way to help others diagnosed
er bald head broadcasts her cancer
to the world, with women approaching her about a lump they found or a
mammogram she inspired them to
Carin Henderson, 39, proudly tells
her two sons, her friends and Facebook readers
that a woman doesn’t need breasts and hair to be
a woman, and she doesn’t need to cover her baldness with a wig or a scarf.
But she’ll also admit that she has broken down
and cried after a group of children at one of her
son’s baseball games stared at her hairless head.
The word Henderson’s friends use to describe
her is real.
She’ll tell you about the aftermath of her chemotherapy, which leaves her curled up in a ball,
sweating through her pillows and sometimes
unable to make it to the bathroom in time.
She has had to choose between paying a medical
bill, buying groceries or getting her son a new pair
of shoes so he could have
what all the other boys
were wearing.
And she’ll openly talk
about her annoyance when
people want to bring her
food after her chemotherapy treatments.
“Until you’ve lived it,
you really just have no
idea,” Henderson said.
Henderson has been an
outspoken advocate for
breast self-exams for
years, posting on her Facebook page a monthly
reminder for women to
check themselves or get
Henderson their
But she never really
Greenwood thought it would happen to
Then, in December, she
felt a mass in her breast.
A mammogram didn’t show anything unusual.
But then her breast turned slightly purple and her
nipple turned down. She just knew.
In February, she was diagnosed with Stage 2
By March, Henderson, who runs her own property management company, was working 70-hour
weeks before her double mastectomy to prepare
for her time off.
She returned to work five days after her surgery.
Friends offered to help, but teaching them how
to chase after tenants who won’t pay or show
someone a house that’s available to rent wasn’t
“I don’t have anybody else who can run my
company — it’s me,” Henderson said. “You just do
what you have to do.”
Plus, she needed the money.
Henderson makes 8 percent off each property
that is rented, which doesn’t add up to much. And
when people don’t pay, she loses out on that
She has picked up a second job at a bank, meaning she often works more than 12 hours a day.
Paying her $740 monthly insurance premiums,
which recently increased from $540, is a must. She
worries if she is even a day late, the company will
cancel her policy.
She has her regular bills and also is paying
about $450 per month in medical bills until she
meets her $3,000 deductible. She got excited a few
weeks ago when she realized she was about to pay
off a few of her bills, and then she got three more
in the mail, she said.
Then, there are the medications. She has tried to
figure out how to control the nausea after chemotherapy. At one point, she was buying anything the
doctor would prescribe, but then she looked at how
much she was spending trying six or seven medications, and she realized she needed to be more
“Cancer drains you emotionally, physically and
by far financially,” she said.
Dealing with medical bills was one of the few
issues Henderson couldn’t handle since her cancer
Carin Henderson
February with Stage 2 invasive ductal
carcinoma, HER-2 positive
Chemotherapy, double mastectomy, Herceptin
What cancer taught me
How to be humble, and I continue to learn that
as I go along. It makes you want to be a better
person all the way around.
lived it,
have no
How cancer changed me
Physically, I was never unhappy with my
breasts, and now I am forced to have a boob
job. Otherwise, I’m not sure yet how it will
change me. I’m still in the process of
transformation. I look at life differently, and
sometimes I wonder, is it gone?
What I would tell someone just
diagnosed with cancer
Cancer is a journey, and I’m not finished yet. I
have met women who were recently diagnosed,
and they look up to me. I try to keep it real, tell
her what she needs to know and what she is up
Pictured: Cancer patient Carin Henderson
walks down a hallway as she receives
chemotherapy treatment in Indianapolis.
diagnosis, her friend Michelle Hadley said.
Hadley set up the payment plans as the bills
came in because Henderson couldn’t do it. She
couldn’t bring herself to call those medical offices
and tell them she has breast cancer and she needs
help, Hadley said.
“She didn’t want to deal with all that other stuff.
She thought, ‘Isn’t it bad enough that I have cancer?’” Hadley said.
‘She keeps going’
Henderson’s attitude has changed day-to-day,
friend Teresa Rode said.
Some days she is ready to fight, and other days
she feels down, which is normal for anyone in her
situation, Rode said.
Working for you
Franklin Insurance Agency
Proudly saluting those who have fought and are
fighting the battle against Breast Cancer
Home • Auto • Group • Fire • Farm
• Health • Commercial • Bonds
“Our Experience Can Make
The Difference For You”
John Auld - Steve Brown - Lee Hodgen
Julia Dougherty - Jo Turnbloom Kris Davenport - Bev Prior
“Experience the Credit Union Difference!”
Franklin Branch
2028 N. Morton St.,
Franklin, IN 46131
Federally Insured
Camp Atterbury Branch
Building 502,
Camp Atterbury, IN 46124
Trusted Choice
• Know
Rode has served as Henderson’s
mentor, since she lost her husband to cancer three years ago.
She told Henderson what to
expect after chemotherapy and
was there for her when she got
bad news, like when doctors said
she needed a double mastectomy,
instead of just one breast, she
One of the conversations they
have had is how Henderson
doesn’t want to be labeled as the
woman who has breast cancer
everywhere she goes, she said.
“Sometimes you don’t want to
talk about it. You don’t want it to
be your whole life,” Rode said.
Friends described Henderson as
a strong person who hates asking
for help.
Henderson agreed, saying she
isn’t the kind of person who asks
for handouts.
“There are good people who
want to help, but how? It’s a hard
balance,” she said.
She isn’t humble enough to call
a friend when she runs out of
toilet paper or is lying on the
floor in so much pain she can’t
move, she said.
It took months before Ann
Marie Bowling finally persuaded
Henderson to let her take her to
the grocery store. And that was
only after Henderson was so sick
from chemotherapy treatments
that she couldn’t lift some of the
heavier items into a shopping
Henderson’s attitude, despite
her struggles, has been amazing,
friends said.
“She keeps going, and I don’t
know how she does it,” Hadley
Bowling believes one thing that
keeps her going is focusing on
something other than cancer,
whether that is mentoring women
who were recently diagnosed or
her children.
‘I’m their mom’
Henderson’s sons, Conner, 13,
and Alex, 11, have gone through
cancer with her. They shaved her
head before her surgery, a choice
they made together since she
knew she would start losing her
hair when she started chemotherapy.
At first, they wouldn’t drink or
eat after her, worried they’d get
cancer, too, Henderson said.
They associated cancer with
“And until I prove otherwise, I
Finding breast cancer early is important. Here is what the American Cancer Society recommends :
Have a mammogram and a clinical breast exam every year starting at age 40.
Get a breast exam by a doctor or nurse every three years if you are in your 20s and 30s.
Know how your breasts look and feel. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if there is any change in your breasts.
How to check your breasts:
Sometimes, you
can feel the
underarm area
better this way.
In front of a mirror
While standing in front of a mirror, look
at your breasts with your arms by your
side, then raise them over your head,
then press your hands on your hips and
tighten your chest muscles.
Look for any changes in your breasts.
Look for a change in size, shape,
contour, dimpling, rash, redness or
scaliness of the nipple or breast skin.
While lying down
Sitting or standing
Lie down on your back, put a pillow
under your right shoulder and place
your right arm behind your head.
While sitting up or standing and with
your arm slightly raised, feel the area
under your arm.
Use the finger pads, not the finger tips
of the three middle fingers on your left
hand to feel for lumps in the right
When you first begin checking your
breasts, it is hard to know what you are
feeling. With practice, you will become
familiar with your breasts. You might ask
your nurse or doctor to help you by
letting you feel your breasts as they do
your breast exam.
Use an up and down pattern, starting at
your underarm and moving across the
breast to the middle of the chest bone.
Repeat the exam on the left breast,
using the finger pads of the right hand.
Source: American Cancer Society
think that’s going to be their
mentality,” Henderson said.
When buying back-to-school
supplies, she had to question
whether she could buy her son the
new shoes he wanted after she
had just finished paying her medical bills.
This summer, the boys spent
much of the time with their father
while she recovered from treatments every two weeks. She didn’t
want them to see her too sick to
get out of bed or go to the grocery
“I’m not sure I really want my
kids to see that kind of a struggle.
Someone who was so vibrant and
The Republic graphic by Amber Pulley
energetic. I’m their mom; I can’t
do that,” she said.
Henderson missed nearly all of
their baseball games because she
couldn’t be out in the sun due to
her treatment.
At one game she did go to, she
carried an umbrella. She ended
up breaking down in tears when
she saw the children staring and
talking about her.
“It doesn’t matter how high
you hold your head. Kids still
look at you like you’re a freak,”
she said.
But Henderson said she hopes
that seeing her go through this
has educated her sons, that
women are more than breasts and
They have asked her: Why you,
She had to think on her
response for a while.
“I said, ‘God knew I have a
bigger mouth than most, and he
knew I would spread self-detection,’” Henderson said.
‘I am so humbled’
And she has, renewing her calls
to women to do their self-exams
and get their mammograms. She
feels it is her duty to tell her
She has heard from women who,
because of her, finally went and
had a lump checked or stopped
putting off their mammogram.
“Then it was all worth it. I am
so humbled that someone would
think of me,” she said.
Henderson also has counseled
multiple women who recently
were diagnosed, telling them the
truth about what to expect with
surgery and chemotherapy treatments.
Henderson got her last chemotherapy treatment this week and
gets her implants next month.
Once her treatment is finished, she wants to do something to help people deal with
We support the fight against
Breast CancerMP6
Don’t get soaked by the
high price of Hearing Aids.
ReS! } nd
the ugly truths of cancer, the
sickness, the vomiting, the
sweating and the constipation.
What she really wanted in the
worst days after chemotherapy
was a fresh pillow and pillowcase,
since her treatment makes her
sweat through hers.
“That would have meant more
than any lasagna that you put in
my freezer that I am never going
to eat,” Henderson said.
And she wants to be there for
people, who seem to feel comfortable talking to her and can relate
to her, she said.
“That’s another purpose I was
put here for,” Henderson said.
30% Off
Is Your Hearing Aid Protected?
Protected from corrosion, inside and out!
Every few years, technology takes a significant leap forward. ReSound Alera
gives you the most advanced features ever offered by ReSound. New Surround Sound technology improves hearing in even the most difficult listening environments. Sound is crisper, cleaner and works more like natural
hearing to provide a truly advanced listening experience. It’s hard to improve on something this powerful, but now with 2.4GHz wireless capabilities, ReSound Alera also connects you to your TV, stereo and phone so you
can hear audio directly in your ear without bothering those around you. It
makes traditional hearing aids a thing of the past.
Re sound
lief '
456 N. Madison Ave. • Greenwood, IN 46142
Communi t
Free Hearing Evaluations available at any of our 4 locations:
NE Indy, NW Indy, Greenwood, and Bloomington
Hospital to conduct ‘Mammothon’
Daily Journal staff report
Franciscan St. Francis HealthIndianapolis is sponsoring
mammograms and consultations
from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. today.
“Mammothon” will be at the
breast center area near Entrance 5,
8111 S. Emerson Ave., Indianapolis.
Those scheduling a
mammogram will receive a free
Vera Bradley gift. Mammograms
are by appointment only.
Financial assistance is
available through Little Red Door
Cancer Agency for those who
Free bone density, blood
pressure and cholesterol
screenings will be offered. There
also will be free chair massages,
skin care demonstrations,
refreshments and door prizes.
Information: Appointments,
(855) 837-8830; Little Red Door
Cancer Agency, 925-5595;
Agency schedules
free mammograms
Little Red Door Cancer Agency
and St. Vincent Mobile Mammography Unit will offer free
mammograms from 8:30 a.m. to
2:45 p.m. Oct. 21 at the agency,
1801 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis.
Individuals who wish to
participate must register two
weeks in advance. Screenings are
by appointment only.
Information: 925-5595;
Hospital support group
meets on Thursdays
Women who have been affected
by breast cancer can attend a
breast cancer support group at
Community Hospital South.
The group features speakers
and other activities at 6 p.m.
Thursdays at 535 E. County Line
Road, Suite 101, Greenwood.
Upcoming dates are Nov. 3 and
Dec. 1.
Scholarship helps those
touched by breast cancer
Students who have lost a parent
to breast cancer or have been
diagnosed themselves may be
eligible for a scholarship.
Applications are being accepted
for the $10,000 Susan G. Komen
Race for the Cure Scholarship.
The deadline is Nov. 15.
Requirements include attending
a state university in pursuit of a
bachelor’s degree and having
financial burden due to a loss of a
parent to the disease or the
student having a diagnosis.
Applicants will be evaluated
based on scholastic achievement,
community service, financial
need and demonstrated
leadership potential.
Scholarship recipients serve as
Komen Collegiate Ambassadors
and must volunteer time to breast
cancer awareness.
To apply, log on to
McFarland Blvd, Indianapolis.
Register by calling 782-7794.
Families with cancer
have support group
Johnson Memorial Hospital has
a support group for families
facing cancer.
Meetings are from 5 to 7 p.m.
the third Thursday of each month
in the Cancer Care Center, 1159 W.
Jefferson St., Franklin.
Information: 736-3346
Support group helps
patients, caregivers
Franciscan St. Francis HealthIndianapolis offers support groups
for individuals with breast cancer
and their caregivers.
The group meets on the second
Monday of each month from 6 to 8
p.m. starting Monday at Southport Presbyterian Church, 7525
Clinic offers free breast
cancer screens
Free breast cancer screenings
will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday
at St. Thomas Clinic, 600 Paul
Hand Blvd., Franklin.
Pinkbeads, St. Thomas Clinic,
The Little Red Door Cancer Agency
and several local businesses are
sponsoring the screenings.
The breast cancer screening is
for women with or without health
insurance. The Little Red Door
will be enrolling qualified patients
who are low income and
uninsured into their program to
receive a free mammogram.
Information: St. Thomas Clinic,
535-6057; Terri Petersen, 517-9610
Doctors use meetings to discuss treatment progress
[email protected]
Tucked into a hallway at Johnson Memorial Hospital, health
care professionals meet to help
diagnose and treat cancer and
other diseases.
• Fullest
couldn’t give of their time, but
they gave how they could.
The medicine eventually
became cheaper, but it made her
jittery and nervous.
The chemotherapy caused her
to be tired and nauseous. Her hair
fell out. Her feet went numb. Her
eyes became so sensitive to the
sun that she’d tear up and her
makeup would be washed away by
the time she got to work. She’d
pick up her fork to eat and drop it
five or six times.
To this day, her ears still ring.
During the middle of her
chemotherapy in 1997, her
friends planned a spring break
trip to Gulf Shores, Ala. They
had their eye on a beach condo,
but doctors said no way unless
she learned to give herself the
injections necessary to bring up
her blood count.
Specialists meet monthly with
health care professionals at the
hospital to give them basic information on different types of cancer and diseases. They also discuss treatments.
Diagnosing cancer is a team
effort and oncologists and primary care physicians should
work together to diagnose and
beat the disease, Dr. Subhash
Sharma, an oncologist at Johnson Memorial Hospital, said.
Sharma recently led a discussion about breast cancer at the
“Treating cancer is not just an
oncologist’s job,” he said.
During the information sessions, primary-care physicians
were able to learn more about
the differences between the
types of breast cancer and
known treatments, and doctors
questioned when to start prescribing hormone therapy as a
preventive measure to women
Being who I was, thinking I was superwoman, I had him
(her husband at the time) take me back to work. I should have
gone home and rested.
Jane Cruzan
She learned.
For the 12-hour drive, Cruzan
slept on a back seat.
“I was just lifeless,” she said.
The rest was much needed. She
walked along the beach, shopped
or stayed at the condo and read.
The trip gave her a great rest,
and she didn’t feel any pressure.
She gave herself chemotherapy
and twice had to give herself
By the end of July, chemotherapy was ending. She had
kept every card that came. She
read them over and over and
“I’d always taken the food,”
Cruzan said. “I had never been
on the receiving end of it, and I
was just overwhelmed,” she
She counted more than 100
people who had done kind acts for
her while she was sick. She wondered how to repay them.
In August of that year, she went
with the same group of friends to
Cancun. She couldn’t sit in the
sun but wanted to continue their
tradition. They’ve been traveling
together for 20 years and have
been to Italy, France, Germany,
the Czech Republic and all over
who are at high risk for the disease.
Typical treatments including
mastectomies, radiation and chemotherapy were discussed.
Primary-care doctors were
able to ask questions about
some of the different types of
treatments and find out when
they should send a patient to an
Sharma also used the sessions
as an opportunity to talk about
how far treatment has progressed
and how women diagnosed today
have a much better chance of
beating the disease than they did
25 years ago.
their honor and served them
gourmet food while they visited
and listened to music. At the end,
she thanked them.
“I promise to pass it on, what
you’ve done for me,” she told
them. “It was such a happy day
for me.”
herself to make the fluid drain.
She started wearing a wig
during chemotherapy. When her
hair grew back, it was thin, and
she didn’t like how it looked.
While still in treatment, she
was at the mall in Bloomington,
when the wind caught her wig
and sent it tumbleweeding
between cars. She took off chasing it. She finally caught up to
it, stooped over, shook it out,
and started picking out the
And she prayed that no one had
She never wanted an audience
for her cancer.
She went into the bathroom to
escape and laughter started deep
in her belly. She laughed and
laughed. And shopped.
Cruzan could have cried and
been devastated at the embarrassment. But she made the
choice to laugh, she said.
Soon, she’ll be donating 15 wigs
from her collection to help other
Choosing to laugh
the East Coast of the United
“When you’re living, you need
to live,” Cruzan said. “Live life to
the fullest.”
Cruzan loves adventures and
said cancer was an adventure.
She has found the good in it.
“It does people a lot of good to
serve others,” Cruzan said. “I
couldn’t deprive other people of
doing good things,” she said.
She wanted to repay all of
those people who had offered
hugs, brought food and sent
She threw a huge tea party in
In 1998, changes in the law
allowed Cruzan to have reconstruction paid for by health insurance. Doctors reduced the size of
her right breast and put a tissue
expander in her left. Once a
week, saline was inserted, and
three months later, she received
an implant.
She felt deformed. The expander was initially positioned too
Lymph nodes had been
removed during her mastectomy
two years earlier, and she had
lymphedema. Fluid wouldn’t
drain properly and her arm
sometimes swelled.
She learned how to massage
“Every woman going through the diagnosis and treatment of breast
cancer wants to know they are receiving the best available knowledge,
skill, expertise and understanding of that disease. That was the idea we
had in mind when we developed the Johnson Memorial Hospital Breast
Care Center. My physician colleagues in medical and radiation oncology
and reconstructive surgery, as well as the Center’s technologists bring
decades of experience and advanced training to the Center, and our
team approach enables us to meet each patient’s needs in a highly
personal way.”
Dave Wippermann, MD - Medical Director,
Johnson Memorial Hospital Breast Care Center
The Breast Care Center creates a setting where women receive services in comfort, while feeling
confident their needs are being addressed with skill and compassion. The Center brings together all
of the hospital’s breast specialists and gives them the latest in medical technology.
The Center features:
" .
1 ,A L
‡ Mammograms with a MammoPad, a soft foam
400A JO
cushion designed to give each patient a softer,
‡ Medical supervision by specially trained breast
radiologists and breast surgeons.
‘Keep fighting
for her’
Woman’s struggle gives strength to another
he is the face that represents a Greenwood
breast cancer practice, the smile that greets
patients and the soothing voice that talks them
through the pain.
Amanda Wood works at Community Breast
Care South and answers patients’ questions,
holds their hand during biopsies and stays late to get the
test results that show whether they have breast cancer.
Fourteen years ago, Wood was a college student with a
She was studying radiography, planning to work with
children who had cancer. But then she met a woman who
changed her life, leading her to breast cancer instead.
And she knew where she needed to be: working for the
doctor she kept hearing about.
Though she typically is not a forceful person, Wood
picked up the phone and called the office of Dr. S. Chace
I have to work for you, she said.
“I just knew people who had breast cancer considered
her to be an angel,” Wood said. “I needed to work for the
best. I knew she was the best.”
Wood started as a filing clerk, working nights. After
graduating with her associate degree in radiography, she
gradually moved her way up to radiology team leader,
clinical director and then practice administrator. Now
her duties are more focused on working with patients
rather than administrative office work.
The 33-year-old Wood is an integral part of a team who
does a little extra for everyone, from patients to office
workers to doctors, Lottich said.
“She’s not an employee so much as she is part of the
family,” Lottich said.
Wood’s career path changed when she met a woman
she refers to as an angel.
Charlotte McGee was 38 years old when she came from
Alabama to Indianapolis for treatment. She had Stage 4
inflammatory breast cancer and was staying at the
American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, where Wood
worked while in college.
The two became instant friends and spent the first
night talking.
They saw each other as often as they could over the
following months, with Wood raising money and traveling
to Alabama to build a deck next to McGee’s house. The
following year, Wood got married, and McGee was going
to be a bridesmaid. But a few months before the wedding,
McGee lost her battle with cancer.
Before McGee died, Wood made a promise to continue
her fight against breast cancer.
“My goal was going to be to keep fighting for her. After
seeing everything she had gone through, I wouldn’t stop,”
Wood said. “There was something about her that made
me want to be a better person.”
Her work toward that goal takes many forms, from
being there for patients, to mastering different radiology
practices and being the face of her practice on billboards
across the city.
Wood didn’t want to be in the advertisement that
appeared on billboards along Interstate 465 and in Greenwood Park Mall. She remembers having to stand on
phone books to be near the height of the model in the
But if that billboard reminds a woman to get a mammogram, then it’s worth it, Wood said.
Pictured: Amanda Wood takes patient Toyce Cord’s
vitals during an office visit.
Lottich work late, making sure they can get test results
for new patients so they don’t have to wait days or weeks
to know if they have cancer.
The days are long and exhausting, but at the end, when
a patient is tearfully thanking her for getting everything
done in one day, she knows the hours were worth it, Wood
She remembers her favorite day when she and Lottich
got to tell a young woman, who was pregnant and seeking
a second opinion, that she didn’t have to terminate her
“That was just such a rewarding day here, to be able to
save two lives instead of one,” Wood said.
‘Want to fight harder’
McGee was young when she was diagnosed, and she
never thought she would get cancer, Wood said.
“It lit a fire in me to let people know that cancer can
affect anybody,” she said.
‘The gift of caring’
Recently, Wood decided to change some of her duties,
focusing more on working with patients in the practice’s
clinic, rather than administrative duties.
“I promised Charlotte I could keep fighting breast
cancer, and I couldn’t fight it from behind my desk,”
Wood said.
The change isn’t a surprise to Lottich. Administrative
work isn’t Wood’s passion, she said.
But she was good at it, bringing more organization to
the practice, speaking up for all workers and creating a
mission statement for everyone. Lottich wondered why
they needed a mission statement at first, but then she
realized Wood was trying to make what they do clear to
everyone, Lottich said.
“She keeps us focused on what we’re about,” Lottich
said. “She never loses that vision. She never loses that
But Wood also is a leader in the clinical field, with
certifications in mammography and breast sonography.
With patients, Wood is seen as approachable and trustworthy, Lottich said.
Wood is honest with her patients, just as she is with her
friends, said Heather Fields, a clinical assistant at the
practice who has worked with Wood for more than five
She is the one who holds their hand and talks them
through procedures. She is the one who tells them that
today is bad, but tomorrow will be better and that a
cancer diagnosis is not the end, Fields said.
“She was born with the gift of caring,” Fields said.
Wood said some of her favorite days in her 14 years
with the practice are those spent with patients.
Every Tuesday and every other Thursday, she and
Then there was the patient who tracked her down in a
crowd of thousands at the Susan G. Komen Race for the
Cure in Indianapolis. The woman wanted to tell her that,
one year ago, Wood had told her the next year would be
tough but she would come out stronger and prouder.
She told her that throughout that year she had thought
of Wood’s words and they kept her going.
That’s what McGee would have wanted, Wood said.
“To instill hope in someone is really what I think she
would want me to do,” Wood said.
But not every day is easy. The hours are long. The
work is demanding.
And losing patients never gets easier, including a friend
she lost this year who was diagnosed at age 28.
But Wood left her funeral with more drive and ambition.
“I want to fight harder so we don’t have another mother and father up there saying goodbye to their daughter,”
Wood said.
The advances Wood has seen in her time with the practice have been amazing.
Patients are more aware of their bodies, and early
detection is saving lives. She knows that by looking at the
number of patients they lost when she started compared
to now.
The switch from analog to digital mammography has
helped detect concerns more quickly.
Advancements in radiation have allowed patients to get
treatment over five days, rather than five weeks. And
soon, patients may be able to have radiation during surgery, she said.
Wood continues her fight by helping diagnose and treat
patients but also by encouraging them to fight the battle.
She sees some patients come in with Stage 4 cancer who
live years longer than expected, and then she sees others
who have great chances of survival but they give up.
Wood wants to be their cheerleader, to let them know
they can get through cancer.
“All things are possible, and you have to have the hope
and strength,” Wood said.
• Count
so get it done,” Creech said.
Days before Christmas, Dr.
David Thompson, a surgeon,
removed Boas’ left breast, including a 2.2-centimeter tumor, and 22
lymph nodes — 10 of which tested
positive for cancer. A port was
inserted in his chest for the chemotherapy drugs.
“Once you have cancer in the
lymph nodes it means you need
some type of chemotherapy
because there’s the likelihood that
the cancer has spread beyond the
lymph nodes to elsewhere in the
body, and the chemotherapy treats
the whole body,” Thompson said.
Patients who undergo surgery,
chemotherapy and radiation after
cancer is found in the lymph
nodes have about a 60 percent
chance of avoiding a reoccurrence of cancer over five years,
Thompson added.
Boas started chemotherapy
Jan. 17, receiving a dose of drugs
once a week every three weeks, at
• Disease
sister, Melissa, and went to pick
up their mother, Bernice Reed.
Everyone would meet at
Hawkins’ house in Franklin. They
were there when Hawkins pulled
“My dad was in the garage, and
he couldn’t even say anything to
me. He just stayed in the garage
the entire time,” she said.
‘This is not my funeral’
Inside, Hawkins met her mother
and sisters, who were sobbing.
She tried to be the strong one, laying down a ultimatum for everyone there.
“This was my rule: If I don’t
cry, nobody cries,” she said. “I’m
not dead. This is not my funeral.
We’re not here to bury me. We
will get through this.”
Treatment started moving
quickly. Less than a week later,
Hawkins sat in the office of oncologist Dr. Mary Lou Mayer, plotting the course — surgical removal of her lymph nodes, 16 rounds
of chemotherapy, a mastectomy
and 32 radiation sessions.
Chemotherapy started right
away. Hawkins remembers being
the most scared at that moment,
driving to the clinic and trying
not to think about the process
that was about to start.
“You’re preparing for a treat-
Here are some male breast cancer facts:
• Common symptoms of male breast
100 to 1
cancer are a lump or hard knot in the
chest area, skin dimpling or puckering,
redness of the breast, itchy or scaly sore
or rash on the nipple, nipple discharge.
The ratio of female to male breast cancer
in the United States
• Because the male breast is smaller
Men who will be diagnosed with breast
cancer this year
than the female breast, it is more likely
the disease will spread to the chest wall.
• Factors that increase the risk of breast
Approximate number of men who will die
from the disease
1.3 men per 100,000
Overall incidence rate of breast cancer
123 women per 100,000
Over incidence rate of breast cancer
Average age a man is diagnosed with
breast cancer
1 in 1,000
Lifetime risk of a man getting breast
CRH’s Cancer Center. Each treatment lasted about 90 minutes, and
he received the last one in late
The first three or four doses
cancer in men include genetic conditions,
family history, chronic liver disorders,
alcoholism, obesity, older age, radiation
exposure, liver disease, estrogen treatments, testicular conditions.
• Men and women with the same stage
of breast cancer have similar outlooks for
survival. A mastectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the breast, is the main
treatment for male breast cancer.
SOURCES: American Cancer Society,
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
weren’t too bad, Boas said,
although he had trouble sleeping,
lost his appetite because food
tasted bland and lost all his body
He lost only 5 pounds because
he mixed a protein powder with
his milk.
It’s not something we see very often, obviously. Male breast
cancer makes up about 1 percent of all breast cancers.
Normally, what we’re taught in training is you may see one male
breast cancer in your career as a general surgeon.
Dr. David Thompson
Columbus surgeon
Only after the last two chemotherapy treatments did Boas feel
Radiation treatments took
place on a different schedule.
Treatment took about 20 minutes
a day Monday through Friday,
for a total of 28 sessions. Each
used photons to kill cancer cells
in his left breast.
Those sessions were followed
by radiation treatments just for
the scar from his mastectomy. It
used electrons — which don’t
penetrate as deeply as photons
— to kill any cancer cells hiding
in the scar tissue.
The treatments were easy, he
This was my rule: If I don’t cry,
nobody cries. I’m not dead. This is not my funeral. We’re not
here to bury me. We will get through this.
Tanya Hawkins
ment of poisons going in your
body. You think about what’s
going into you, and that’s scary
enough,” she said.
Hawkins said she was shaking
so badly by the time she reached
the doctors that she could barely
“It makes you so out of it and
sick. I thought, ‘I can’t do this. If
I have 16 of this, I won’t make it,’”
she said.
That was the cue for her family
to step in.
Reed would meet her at the
doctor’s office and stay with her
until the treatments were over.
Hawkins can recall Flagle holding
her hand in the waiting room of
the Center for Women’s Health
before her chemotherapy treatment.
Flagle and Reed redid the
bedroom that Hawkins would be
staying in. They hung portraits of
Haley, snapshots from when she
was a teenager and old photos of
their parents. They wanted to
ensure that wherever Hawkins
looked, she’d be reminded of all
of the good things in her life.
One weekend, Flagle threw a
hat and scarf party for her.
Friends, family and co-workers
brought multicolored hats and
fancy scarves for her to wear
once her hair fell out.
When the chemotherapy started
and it was clear Hawkins would
spend days at a time in bed, she
and Flagle went shopping for new
“I bought the softest, most
expensive sheets we could find,”
Flagle said. “We’d hang out in
bed, lay around and watch movies, just to comfort her.”
‘Always be that person’
Quickly, Hawkins adopted a
day-to-day mentality to deal with
her treatment. Rather than think
that she had 16 chemotherapy
treatments ahead of her, she
broke it down into this Thursday’s
appointment or tomorrow’s radiation treatment.
Because the tumor had grown
out of the boundaries of the
initial cell, Hawkins needed to
have her entire right breast
removed. Her mind-set when she
heard that was, if we have to do
the right, then let’s do the left
as well.
“I don’t ever want to go
through this again,” she said.
“So why would you run that risk.
For me, it was a no-brainer. I
don’t think breasts are that
Danny Hawkins, by then her
husband, supported her decision.
“The breast part, that didn’t
matter to me,” he said. “Some
guys might handle it different.
When you get to a certain age, it’s
not about the appearance.”
When Hawkins’ hair started
falling out, Danny Hawkins
shaved her head.
Clumps of brown hair fell to the
bathroom floor. But Tanya
Hawkins stared straight ahead.
She tried to remain stoic as the
curly locks brushed past her face
on the way to the ground. She
didn’t want to see herself until it
was completely gone.
Out of the corner of her eye, she
caught her reflection in a framed
picture on the wall. She gasped.
Danny Hawkins took her hand
said, except that he needed to
remain still throughout.
Donna Christian, Boas’ boss at
Edinburgh Premium Outlets,
understands what Boas has
endured, because she is a breast
cancer survivor.
Christian, general manager of
the outlet mall, considers Boas an
inspiration to his co-workers.
“He continues to work while
undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. He has kept a
positive attitude through the
whole process,” she said.
Boas said breast cancer served
as a wake-up call.
“You make every day count and
not take things for granted,” Boas
Shepherd lived the same philosophy after developing breast cancer. Unfortunately, he never fully
defeated the disease and lost his
life to it Sept. 24.
Boas will have to take
Tamoxifen, a drug that interferes
with the activity of estrogen, for
five years, to help stave off a
That’s fine with him. He’s just
doing what needs to be done.
That includes sharing his story
with men if he thinks they need to
know it.
Just like a man from Hope did.
and led her to a photograph of
them together.
“He told me, ‘Do you see that
picture? That’s always who you
are. You’ll always be that person.’
And when he said that, I knew
everything was going to be OK,”
she said.
Hawkins, working as a manager
for Indiana Bank and Trust,
remained at her job during chemotherapy. Though she bought a
wig that re-created the short,
curly style she had worn naturally, she rarely wore it.
Instead, she rotated through the
stack of hats and loudly colored
scarves that people had given her
as gifts. She tried to keep a professional look, matching them to
her outfit for the day, while also
showing some creativity with her
“Working in the field I do without hair was very scary, so I had
to make it fun,” she said.
ed time to recover,” Hawkins
Her final radiation treatment
was in September 2008.
After everything was finished,
Hawkins’ 10-year-old daughter,
Haley Schofield, was adamant
that this was a new start for the
family. She, her mom and her
new stepfather, Danny Hawkins,
could get back to a somewhat
normal life after a year of turmoil.
She held out hope that maybe
she’d get a little brother or sister,
even though Hawkins knew that
was unlikely.
When Myla was born Sept. 11,
2010, Haley got her wish.
Haley has relished in the role of
big sister. The 13-year-old pushes
Myla in her stroller around their
Franklin neighborhood or sits on
the ground with her, playing with
her toys.
When the baby cries, often it’s
Haley who comes running to help.
“I kept telling her to just have a
baby, and we’ll start all over,”
Haley said.
The family realizes that, while
the ordeal was over for now, it
could return.
Hawkins has seen her doctor
every three months since finishing treatment. She sees her radiologist, Dr. Peter Garrett at St.
Francis Cancer Center, every
“We always hold our breath,
worrying when it’s going to come
back. It’s always in back of your
mind,” she said.
‘We’ll start all over’
She would leave work on Thursday afternoons for her treatment
then take Friday off. The weekends were spent recovering from
the poisons in her body. By Monday she was ready to go again.
But when she transitioned to
daily radiation treatment, she
opted to take a four-month leave
to focus on recovery.
“It wasn’t fair to my employer,
or to me, to be gone every day
and try to catch up on work. I
was just so worn out that I need-
Local Resale Owners Team Up
To Support Breast Cancer Awareness!
quality consigned home furnishings & decor
4 M
1140 N St. Rd. 135 Suite N
Greenwood, IN 46142
Hours: Tues-Sat 10-7pm, Sun & Mon 12-5pm
Hours: Mon. 12-5pm, Tues-Sat 10-7pm, Closed Sun
Kids Cl thes
Hours: Mon-Fri 10-6pm, Sat 10-5pm, Sun 12-5pm
1001 N. St. Rd. 135 Suite B-2,
Greenwood, IN 46142
Hours: Mon 12:30-5pm, Tues-Sat 10-6pm, Closed Sun
Wo r th R e p e a t i n g
219 W. Jefferson St., Franklin, IN 46131
(317) 560-5365
1140 N. St. Rd. 135,
Greenwood, IN 46142 • 317-888-2300
Consi g nments
7657 Shelby Street
Indianapolis, IN 46227
Ir r
Hours: Mon-Sat 10-6pm, Sun 12-5pm
Karen Mercer Interiors
& Other Fabulous Finds
8944 S. Saint Peter St., Indianapolis, IN
2220 E. Southport Rd.
Indianapolis, IN
Hours: Mon-Fri 10-8pm, Sat 10-5pm, Closed Sun
Hours: Tues-Sat 9:30-5:30pm, Evening by appointment
• Control
Two months after she was
diagnosed, Ebeyer had her first
dose of chemotherapy.
Every three weeks on Tuesdays,
Ebeyer lay in a recliner and
watched the red medicine travel
through the IV into her left arm’s
Schwark went with her each
time. They made lunch dates out
of the chemotherapy appointments.
Ebeyer always ate a vegetarian
sandwich for lunch, just as she
had planned for those days.
Every Monday and Tuesday,
she had a positive outlook and a
fighting spirit.
“Let’s fight this and be
healthy,” she said out loud to her
By Wednesdays, her optimism
started fading.
By Thursdays, she slept all day.
She took the anti-nausea pills
even though she didn’t feel like
she was going to vomit. She just
wanted to sleep.
By Fridays, she stayed in bed
with closed window blinds. The
chemotherapy drained her physically, and she was mentally
exhausted. She had time to think,
and they weren’t always good
“Am I being the best mom?”
“Will my husband still love me
after I lose my hair and breasts?”
Her sisters came into Ebeyer’s
room. They had to stop Ebeyer
from sulking. They pulled her out
of the dark bedroom to sit in the
bright living room. They made
her laugh by attempting to do
cartwheels with the kids.
Schwark climbed into bed with
Ebeyer as she rested her head on
Schwark’s shoulder.
“I got to be her big sister
again,” Schwark said. “I just let
her cry on me.”
Her other sister, Melissa Burton, would pack her bags to stay
with Ebeyer from Wednesday
nights until Sundays.
Burton worked from Ebeyer’s
home so she could help with the
Then 35-year-old Burton picked
up the kids from school, helped
them with their homework,
cleaned the house and did the
family’s laundry.
The middle sister made sure
• Move
• Shock
there was a chance someone could
see she was sick, took the most
courage. But she said it was worth
it if it meant she would be back in
her classroom with her students.
Tichenor completed her chemotherapy treatments on June 7, 2010,
her youngest son’s birthday. She
thought she would rebound quickly
from chemo, but she still has side
effects, including aches and pains.
She has been cancer-free since
her surgeries last year, and her
reconstruction is complete.
Tichenor said she now has days
where she doesn’t think about
what’s happened at all. Other times
she has flashbacks about battling
the disease and worries about
recurrences or whether her kids
might face it as they grow older.
She will never call cancer a
blessing, but the experience
brought her closer to her family,
and Tichenor believes she discovered strength and courage within
herself she wouldn’t have known
if she weren’t fighting for her life.
“I’ll never be the same person.
And that’s a positive,” she said.
members, friends or church
members watch over them
whenever Michael Swigert was
at work.
Church members helped them
throughout her treatment, and
not just with baby-sitting. They
brought over food — often homemade meals — every night so
they would have one less thing to
worry about.
“I felt blessed that so many
people were willing to help,” she
Family members and anonymous friends assisted them with
the $1,300 in out-of-pocket medical
expenses they had last year. An
old friend of Michael Swigert’s
even raised money at a Cincinnati-area pizza parlor he owned to
help them with their hospital
They also got a lot of emotional
support, whether prayer services at
church or cards that Julie Swigert
sent her every day her sister-in-law
had chemotherapy. Each arrived
the day of her chemo session with a
After Ebeyer’s first appointment, the oncologist shook her
new patient’s hand.
“You’re going to be OK,” Mayer
“It took someone to tell me to
believe that I can beat the cancer,” Ebeyer said.
‘Let’s fight this’
the kids’ lives remained “normal”
while Ebeyer was going through
And after two rounds of chemotherapy, the tumor shrank. Ebeyer felt empowered.
“The medicine was working and
attacking the cancer,” she said.
‘Moms don’t get scared’
Jennifer and David Ebeyer
always made each other laugh.
He was the smooth real estate
agent who at 26 asked out the
19-year-old bank teller. He
thought it would be funny to
take her to a G-rated movie for
their first date because she was
too young to get into a comedy
“At least you have a good-looking head,” he’d tell her when she
lost her hair from chemotherapy.
She placed her pinky finger
next to her mouth, mimicking Dr.
Evil from the “Austin Powers”
The couple beat cancer with the
help of doctors, their family and
friends’ support, their faith in
God and their sense of humor.
“Humor was my coping mechanism,” David Ebeyer said.
He is the man of the house. His
wife needed his support; his four
young children needed his
strength. They needed his jokes
and laughs.
“I never saw my parents cry,”
handwritten message encouraging
her to stay strong.
Michael Swigert also tried to
boost her morale and has the bald
head to prove it.
He shaved his head when she
shaved hers to prevent her hair
from falling all over the house
while she got chemo. He printed
out inspirational passages of
Scripture and posted them
around the house. He even taped
one on the ceiling above her
place in bed.
Every day, she read the quote:
“All things are possible.”
Michael Swigert also quit his
position as a high school band
director and transferred to an
elementary school teaching job so
that he’d have more time to spend
with her at home.
That way, he could go home
instead of having to attend band
booster meetings and practices
on evenings and weekends.
The Swigerts grew closer
during her struggle with cancer.
Before, they were kept busy raising their two children.
“It had been such a whirlwind,” she said. “But it made us
appreciate our time together
said their oldest child, 18-year-old
Kimberly Ebeyer.
Jennifer Ebeyer wanted to
stay calm in front of her four
kids, as her mom had done for
“I never wanted to show my
kids I was scared because I’m
their mom,” Jennifer Ebeyer
said. “Moms don’t get scared.”
The four children knew their
mommy went to the doctor a lot
and was losing her hair, but they
were never scared.
“I didn’t realize Mom could
die,” 16-year-old Sarah Ebeyer
said. “I don’t think I could handle
dealing with cancer if it had
happened now that I’m older.”
School would be a lot more
stressful, and it would be a lot
harder to concentrate, she said.
“I dealt with it better as a
child,” she said.
The kids went to a Chuck E.
Cheese with a teacher on the
day their mother had a five-hour
surgery for her double mastectomy and reconstructive procedure — not knowing the grownups were keeping them occupied.
After Jennifer Ebeyer was
diagnosed, they had slumber
parties every night on their parents’ bedroom floor with sleeping
“We didn’t know how serious
cancer was,” Sarah Ebeyer said.
Her choice
When the two older kids were in
school, it always was the perfect
time to vacuum the house.
Ebeyer bent over and the vacuum caught her shoulder-length
blonde hair. She thought the vacuum suction pulled a clump of her
hair, but it was starting to fall out.
She started losing her hair from
the chemotherapy after the first
dose, so she took control of her
“Let’s buzz it all off,” she told
her mother.
Ebeyer had her last doses of
chemotherapy by October 2002.
The tumor was gone.
Doctors told her that she didn’t
need to have both breasts
removed. But she wanted to be
extra cautious. A double mastectomy was her choice.
But her health insurance didn’t
agree with that choice. The company refused to pay for her left
breast to be removed. They told
her it’s like preventive medicine
as if she’s taking vitamins.
So Ebeyer paid the $2,100 for
her left breast to be removed and
Plastic surgeon Dr. Christopher
Jones presented Ebeyer her
options for reconstructive breast
Ebeyer is barely 5 feet tall and
was a size 4. Her doctor told her
she was too tiny for a transflap
• Loss
Finding support
ventilator off, but he was hesitant
for two reasons.
“One, you’re hoping against all
doubt that the antibiotics start
working. Two,” he paused, then
choked with tears, “I don’t think I
really wanted her to die on her
Bible’s brother, Steve Cisco,
was driving from Tennessee and
made it to the hospital about
By early next morning, Anita
Cisco’s organs started shutting
Dr. David Loesch, the oncologist working with Anita Cisco,
was standing at the nurse’s station. Richard Cisco looked over
and saw him with tears in his
“I took it as a great testament
to your mother,” Richard Cisco
said to Bible.
The family gathered around the
hospital bed, and Bible remembers hearing the steady, fast
pumping noise of the ventilator
start to slow.
procedure, where surgeons use
the fat from the back or stomach
for new breasts.
The doctors opted for the
expanders procedure where
pockets of expanders are surgically inserted into the breast
Ebeyer lay on the surgical table
for five hours for her double
mastectomy and reconstructive
surgery in November 2002.
For the next four months, the
skin on her back stretched out
like fabric every time her doctor
injected saline. Her new bare
flat chest needed to be stretched
out so implants could be inserted.
By March 2003, Ebeyer’s reconstructive process was complete.
“I always joked that I would
never get two things in life —
breast implants and tattoos.”
Now the 42-year-old embraces
her surgically restored breasts
and tattooed nipples.
“I wouldn’t change anything.
I’m grateful I’m alive,” she said.
“How many times do we look
around and appreciate what God
has given us?” Ebeyer said.
“As simple as a tree. I like to
watch the wind move the leaves
on a tree.”
She was so caught up with her
busy life and never slowed down.
“I’ve slowed down and appreciate everything in life,” she
Anita and Richard Cisco visit their
first grandchild, Jaylynn Cisco, a few
months after she was born in 1998.
Anita would meet only one grandchild before she died of cancer in
The family’s minister was in
the room, and they all prayed
Both Richard Cisco and Bible
said they would’ve lived life differently if they had known Anita
Cisco was going to die so young.
“Losing a parent is shocking
enough, but to lose a parent in
your early 30s is hard when you
think they’re going to be around
for a while,” Bible said.
The first thing Richard Cisco
did after his wife died was find all
the photo negatives and pictures
of family in the house and put
them in a fireproof box.
When he joined a group of
widowers, he was able to
express the emotions he had
hidden during his wife’s illness,
Cisco said.
Bible said it took her nearly 10
years to join cancer support
organizations because she usually
would just break down in tears.
She now is in charge of registration and accounting for the
Mooresville chapter of Relay for
Life and volunteers with the
American Cancer Society.
She also reaches out in more
personal ways.
Upon hearing a friend or
acquaintance has been touched by
cancer, Bible contacts them and
tells them to surround themselves
with people and not to go through
the battle alone.
Bible said she wants to touch
one person the way her mother
touched people just by being
herself. She said that’s the way
her mother would have wanted
Family Dentistry
t one
d each year, which means tha
Over 30,000 cases of
l be diagnosed with
s disease. More women wil
h cervical cancer
than will be diagnosed wit
the huoral cancer
es of oral cancer caused by
(10,000 cases)! In
of cervical cancer.
there are HPV-related cases
age 18-39 (sexually active pa
• Increased risk with patients
s (tobacco use)
older and lifestyle risk factor
ewing tobacco
l cancers – smoking and ch
• Tobacc
who use alcohol, tobacco or
• 3 out of 4 ora
risk of lip cancer.
to sun on your lips increases
• Sun – prolonged exposure
it again.
cer increases risk of getting
• Pre
D.D.S., F.A.G.D.
Indiana’s Own Makeover Dentist
(from age 2 to 102)
• Check up and Cleaning,
Gingivitis (gum) Treatment
• Emergency Care
• Natural Tooth Colored
Fillings and Crowns
• Sedation, Nitrous Oxide and
• Oral Cancer Screening (Vizilite)
• TMJ (Jaw Joint Treatment)
• Porcelain Veneers & Crowns
• Botox and Juvederm
Dr. Raymond will be
donating $1.00 for each
patient cleaning or new
patient visit during the
month of October to
Cancer Research.
CALL TODAY 317.738.3111
799 W. Jefferson St., Franklin, IN 46131
To Reduce Risk of Oral Ca
t help!
can call 1-800-4-cancer to ge
• Qu
programs available,
there are smoking cessation
• Talk to
h as Chantix.
along with prescriptions suc
ally red inside mouth or on
• Patches , white and especi
tches can be
common, however some pa
• White (leukoplakia) most
red and white.
lips or mouth.
• Sores which do not heal on
• Bleeding in your mouth.
• Loose teeth
pain when swallowing
• Difficulty in swallowing or
• Earache
Velscope, help
cedures, such as Vizilite and
nt. When
The newe
ir earliest stage of developme
the dentist identi
, treatment is simpler, less
ly stage oral cancer is found
es, lumps,
invasive and more that 90%
throat for red or white patch
A dentist can
roof of mouth, back of
. He/ she will also check the
s are also a tool in
d floor of mouth. Radiograph
ed a biopsy.
. If a lesion is found, it may ne
the diagnosis of oral cancer
and chemoTREATMENT
all and caught early, radiation
above, the cure rate is 90%
therapy, surgery
n is the key to a good progn
detected early. As with
.luI w I
At The St. Francis Breast Clinic, Your
Health Is Precious. So Is Your Time.
It’s natural to feel anxious when you are facing breast cancer.
But at the St. Francis Breast Clinic, you won’t feel the added
stress of waiting. Our expert team of physicians will see you at
one visit, in one convenient location. No traveling to various
doctors, no waiting for answers – just complete support at
every step as we help you embrace the fight.
Embracing the future.
To speak with our Nurse Navigator or to schedule an
appointment, call (317) 528-6704. It could be your first step
toward a healthier, happier future.
Denise Johnson Miller, M.D.
Erika Rager, M.D.
Franciscan St. Francis welcomes Dr. Rager to the
multidisciplinary breast specialist team.