Tag Archives: Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer With Help From Our Friends

Patti Handel is a four-time cancer survivor.

“’Cancer’ is the scariest word in the English language,” she said. “But it’s only part of us. It doesn’t define us.”

The 61-year-old from Irmo shares words of wisdom at monthly meetings of Woman to Woman, Lexington Medical Center’s support group for breast cancer survivors.

Handel started attending Woman to Woman meetings after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2007, just one month after she and her husband moved to Irmo from Long Island, New York.

Patti Handel and Brenda Osteen at the West Columbia Riverwalk

Patti Handel and Brenda Osteen at the West Columbia Riverwalk

“I didn’t have a South Carolina driver’s license yet and I needed an oncologist, surgeon and other doctors. It was overwhelming.”

So, she found comfort – and new friends in a new town – at the support group, which is designed to offer companionship to women who are recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

At Woman to Woman, cancer survivors share their experiences, learn about the latest treatment options and swap tips including how pickle juice seems to help cure chemotherapy-induced nausea.

That’s where Patti met Brenda Osteen in 2010.

Brenda, age 67, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 after a mammogram. The Lexington resident endured a mastectomy, chemotherapy and reconstruction.

At the meetings, Patti and Brenda hit it off.

“Patti’s been where I’ve been,” Brenda said. “You can’t explain cancer to someone who hasn’t gone through it. It’s like trying to explain a migraine to someone who never had a headache.”

When you see Patti and Brenda together, you can tell they’re close. Both impeccably dressed, they laugh like college friends and share jokes and stories that make you laugh from your belly.

From trading bestsellers they’ve read to talking about their grandchildren while sipping a cocktail at a weekly dinner, they understand each other well.

Brenda and Patti

Brenda and Patti

“When it came back, I was mad as a hornet,” Patti said.

“We need friends to hold hands with, laugh with and cry with,” Patti said.

Patti especially needed Brenda’s support after a cancer recurrence in her leg in 2010, and another in her abdomen and pelvis one year ago.

Patti has had chemotherapy three times and lost her hair twice. She’s monitored every 8 weeks, with scans every three months.

Brenda has inspired Patti to stay positive.

“We get up, put on our makeup, lipstick and earrings – and head out. Life is too precious to waste,” Brenda said.

Kelly Jeffcoat, breast cancer nurse navigator at Lexington Medical Center, runs the Woman to Woman support group at the hospital. As a breast cancer survivor herself, she has a first-hand understanding of the group’s experience.

Kelly Jeffcoat

Kelly Jeffcoat

“This crazy, horrible thing called breast cancer ends up giving you these beautiful relationships,” she said.

Having a cheering section during cancer is important. Studies have shown that women with friends who support them through their cancer journey may experience better outcomes.

Patti and Brenda count Kelly as a big part of the cheering section.

“Kelly is instrumental in the treatment, care and recovery of women going through breast cancer,” Patti said. “Kelly can really say, ‘I know how you feel. I understand.’”

Patti and Brenda will attend Women’s Night Out on October 14, Lexington Medical Center’s annual dinner that recognizes October as breast cancer awareness month and honors cancer survivors and their families. More than 900 people attend each year.

Kate Larsen

Kate Larsen

The event includes a silent auction, physician exhibits, fashion show featuring models who are breast cancer survivors, dinner and a talk with keynote speaker Kate Larsen. A breast cancer survivor, Larsen will talk about the importance of friendship during cancer treatment.

For more information about Women’s Night Out or to purchase tickets, visit LexMed.com or call Lexington Medical Center Community Outreach at (803) 936-8850.

The Woman to Woman support group at Lexington Medical Center meets on the 4th Thursday of each month at 5:00 p.m. inside the Women’s Imaging lobby at 2728 Sunset Boulevard in West Columbia. That’s Lexington Medical Park 1 on the hospital campus. The support group is free and open to any woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, regardless of where she has received her treatment.

For more information about Lexington Medical Center’s cancer services, visit LexMed.com.

Women’s Night Out for Breast Cancer

Lexington Medical Center will host its annual Women’s Night Out on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in downtown Columbia. The event recognizes October as breast cancer awareness month and honors cancer survivors and their families. More than 900 people attend each year.

Kate Larsen

Kate Larsen

Join us for a silent auction, physician exhibit, signature cocktail, fashion show featuring breast cancer survivors and dinner. Attendees will also enjoy a keynote speech by Kate Larsen. Diagnosed with stage II breast cancer at age 46, she went from a seasonal fitness instructor, personal trainer, certified wellness coach and mom of three to a chemotherapy patient. Larsen will talk about how the power of having girlfriends in the midst of a dark and difficult journey gave her help, hope and a renewed sense of joy in her life.

Proceeds from Women’s Night Out benefit the Crystal Smith Breast Cancer Fund, a Lexington Medical Center Foundation program that supports women undergoing cancer treatment.

“Women’s Night Out is an inspiring evening that recognizes resilient women in our community,” said Barbara Willm, vice president of Community Relations at Lexington Medical Center.

Tickets for Women’s Night Out cost $40 each. Exhibits and the silent auction begin at 5:00 p.m. Dinner begins at 7:00 p.m. Call (803) 936-8850 or visit LexMed.com to purchase tickets. You can also sponsor a table for 8 honoring a breast cancer survivor for $350. Dress for the event is business casual, but jeans friendly. There will be free valet parking and a cash bar.

Lexington Medical Center diagnoses approximately 250 breast cancer patients each year. The hospital’s breast program has accreditation from the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) and the American College of Radiology (ACR). Lexington Medical Center has four Women’s Imaging centers and a mobile mammography van, all offering digital mammography. Lexington Medical Center’s cancer program also has accreditation with commendation by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.WNO_ColaMetro_7x4.875_pub.pdf

Local woman’s cancer battle uncovers family link

FROM WIS TV

A Midlands woman’s fight against breast cancer led to a discovery that may save the lives of her sisters and daughters.

Click for Video: wistv.com – Columbia, South Carolina

Kelly, Kathryn and Ashley

Kelly, Kathryn and Ashley

 

Kathryn Robinson’s cancer battle started more than two years ago.  “I was preparing to go to work, and while I was in the shower I just accidentally felt a lump in my breast,” said Robinson.

It had been less than two months since Robinson’s yearly mammogram, but she knew something wasn’t right. “I called the doctor and went in that afternoon,” said Robinson. “He sent me in for an ultrasound that next Monday.”

Just a few days after the ultrasound Robinson was diagnosed with breast cancer and life immediately changed for her and her family.

“When my mom was diagnosed and she talked about getting genetic testing done, that’s the first time I had ever heard of the gene,” said Robinson’s 24 year-old daughter, Ashley Lyons.

Robinson’s family quickly learned about the BRCA gene malformation. It’s hereditary and when present greatly increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. In the midst of chemo, Kathryn tested positive for the gene.

“I had eight rounds of chemotherapy, and I was scheduled to do radiation after that, but because I was positive with the BRCA2 gene, they did a bilateral mastectomy,” said Robinson.

Doctors at Lexington Medical Center recommended the mastectomy and a hysterectomy in hopes of eliminating Robinson’s future cancer risks. They also advised her family to get tested for the gene.

“I had one sister that wasn’t interested in getting tested and a younger sister that I can usually persuade to do just about anything… she went and got tested,” said Robinson.

As it turned out, Robinson’s sister Kelly Moore also tested positive for the gene malformation. “I feel like I’m the lucky one,” said Moore. “Kathryn helped to educate me, and I had all of her valuable information for what she had gone through.

Moore chose to have her ovaries removed as a preventive measure, and is now getting more frequent breast exams. For Robinson’s daughter Ashley, the decision was more difficult.

“At first, I did not want to know,” said Ashley. “I did not want to be tested.” But Ashley says her older sister talked her into being tested for the gene. While her older sister does not have the BRCA malformation, Ashley does.

“At first I was like how do you test positive and do nothing about it…so that was kind of hard in the beginning,” said Ashley.

But medical oncologist Dr. Steve Madden at Lexington Medical center says at Ashley’s young age it’s okay not to undergo preventive surgery as long as she’s pro-active. “As long as you’re aware, you’re going to be on top of anything and catch it much earlier if it develops at all,” added Dr. Madden.

Kathryn has been a survivor now for two years. Her family calls her a lifesaver. “She was very positive, and she inspired all of us to take a fighting approach to it,” said Moore.

Dr. Madden says doctors usually advise anyone diagnosed with breast cancer who is under the age of 50 to be tested for the gene. They also advise immediate family members of breast cancer patients to be tested, as well.

Click for the full video: WIS TV VIDEO