Jenny Peterson, You Make Our Hearts Race

By: Jenny Peterson

I’m so excited to be serving as this year’s Komen Austin Race for the Cure Ambassador! Long before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was a Race for the Cure supporter and participant. My family and I first started walking together at RFTC after my sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009.Jenny tshirtWe made T-shirts and asked friends on Facebook to give us names of people they would like us to walk in honor of and in memory of. I wrote all these names on the back of my T-shirt — you can see my mother’s name, Sue, on the left side. Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in high school, and died 10 years later from metastatic breast cancer.Jenny RFTC

As you can imagine, it was both a fun day and a bittersweet one. In this picture, I’m with my sisters-in-law and my next older sister after we’d finished the Race. We had no idea that three years later, I would be diagnosed, too.

Jenny family

My first Race for the Cure after my diagnosis.

But, diagnosed I was! It was May of 2012 and I’d just gotten engaged to my longtime sweetheart, Brett. My family and I decided to do Race for the Cure that fall while I was in the middle of treatment. I looked like the walking wounded, because I was — I’d just been diagnosed with lymphedema as a result of my surgery, so my arm was wrapped up like a burrito. I was bald, and I had balance issues because chemotherapy caused nerve damage in my feet. My brother Carl was concerned because I insisted on running down the Survivor’s Path, but no one could stop me! I was never happier to be anywhere else than I was that day — it was emotional, as you can imagine, but I felt strong, happy, and supported.

Jenny and Brett

My husband, Brett, and I at Race.

Brett and I walked RFTC again with some dear friends the following year. My friend Katherine had been diagnosed just a few months after I had, and we walked with her and her husband. A smaller crowd, but no less enthusiastic—we had a great time in the Survivor’s Tent, decorating our pink baseball caps and posing with props.

 


Jenny in garden

Today, I’m 4 years post diagnosis and doing well. While I was recuperating from my treatment, I wrote a book called “The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion: Cultivating Hope, Healing & Joy in the Ground Beneath Your Feet.” I’m a garden designer, author, and speaker, and I wanted to do something to help other people going through a cancer diagnosis. To me, the garden is one of the most healing and balancing places around, and my garden was the backdrop to my recovery.

I’m walking this year as the Komen Austin Race for the Cure Ambassador, and I couldn’t be more honored. Komen Austin paid for my $15,000 of biopsies so that I could get a timely diagnosis and start treatment, and I am forever grateful. If you have never participated in Race for the Cure, I urge you to.

Susan G. Komen Austin is the only organization in our area that deals with breast cancer on every level — prevention, mammograms, diagnosis, treatment, recovery, research, and emotional and financial support. I don’t know what I would have done without this organization, and their support meant that one of the darkest times in my life was turned into one of hope.

Race for the Cure…

  • Helps survivors know that they are strong, beautiful, and supported
  • Helps co-survivors know that they are not alone
  • Helps family and friends know that there are definable ways that they can support their loved one
  • Helps everyone else to contribute to a cause that may one day affect them or their families
  • Provides an atmosphere of hope and gratitude

Please join me this year at Race for the Cure. It’s September 25, so organize your team, plan out your insane pink outfit, come early and stay late! And know that your support means the world to me and countless others. I’ll be looking for you, and if you see me, please say hello — I’ll be the one tripping down the Survivor’s Path, yelling my fool head off.

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The Power of Pink

By: Suzanne Stone

You wouldn’t think that color could change everything. That a simple shade of light would be able to inspire action, enlighten the mind, even save a life. But it does, every day. In just the past couple of weeks I’ve replaced my white front porch light with a blue one to show my support for our officers and tied black and red ribbons on my trees in remembrance of a father and son who lived just down the street but lost their lives to terror in another country. Color can stir emotion, thought, can change a mood and symbolize so much.


A few months ago I needed new running shoes. As I shopped the shelf of shoes in the sports store it was painfully obvious my choices were slim. Neon colors and bright stripes dominate the women’s athletic shoe market. Not sure why we can’t just get a simple white and black running shoe, but it seems the running shoe designers of the world have a different opinion of what we should be wearing on our 6:00 a.m. runs. Faced with a choice of bright and brighter, I opted for bright pink. A solid and strong deep bright reflective pink.  Little did I know at that moment that it would be a small sign of things to come.

Today as I end my second week as the Executive Director of Komen Austin, pink has become not just the color of my running shoes, but the driving force for my every day decisions. Our pink “running ribbon” isn’t just a logo.  It’s a symbol of strength, perseverance, survival, and the vision of a world without breast cancer.  It has become such a powerful and recognizable symbol and color. I would be surprised if you could find many who don’t immediately associate pink with Komen, breast cancer, and a person in their lives who has been touched by it.

Komen Austin embraces pink and empowers outreach organizations in our 5 county area to change the lives of the people who live in them. A woman who gets a mammogram free of charge, a patient who receives help navigating the complex world of her cancer care, a co-survivor who finds comfort in a group of people where he finds out he’s not the only one – all made possible because the power of pink, a simple color, inspired someone to give a dollar.


Tomorrow morning, I plan to put on my pink running shoes and show the sunrise I mean business. Maybe I will solve that problem that’s had me stumped. Or come up with a new idea for outreach and education. Perhaps I’ll just feel better. Regardless of the outcome, my pink shoes will carry me, inspire me and most importantly remind me of the struggle too many women are facing.

Join me. Go grab those running shoes, walking shoes, hiking shoes, river shoes or high heeled shoes and let’s get to work to make the color pink a color of celebration and a reminder of a time when breast cancer was something we still had to fight. Put aside a dollar for every mile you run, every step you take or hill you climb, donate it to Komen Austin and watch lives change. All because of a color.

Life’s Unexpected Gifts

By: Stacy Mefford

I am a 17-year breast cancer survivor and my husband, Gary, is a 17 year breast cancer co-survivor. WOW – 17 years!  As any breast cancer survivor will tell you, each year is a huge milestone and we never take those milestones lightly.  We celebrate them and appreciate them and are so grateful for them.


My Story

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January of 1999.  I was 45 years old.  I was healthy.  I was never sick, felt great, was active and extremely happy with my “healthy” life. When I was told I had breast cancer and that it would require surgery and aggressive treatment afterwards, I was shocked and in disbelief.  This can’t be happening.  There must be some mistake.

Well, it was happening and it wasn’t a mistake. Two surgeries later, six months of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of radiation later – believe me – I knew the reality of what was happening to me.  It may sound like it ended there, but no – it doesn’t end once the surgeries and treatments are completed.

There were follow-up doctor appointments – with ALL of my doctors for months, and years.  My immune system was so obliterated. I contracted every cold, flu and infection within five miles.  Well, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the picture.  My hair had fallen out, so I became bald. Then I had peach fuzz growing back and hair that I didn’t recognize as it continued to grow back in.  I’ve just described – in a very condensed version – some of the challenges of going through breast cancer treatment.

In January of 2000, I was told I was cancer free! What has followed, is what I prefer to focus on and share as much as I can.


Stacy & Gary 2013

Stacy with husband, Gary.

During the “cancer year”, my husband, Gary, was my rock.  He was there with me every step of the way. I know my outcome would not have been what it was without his care, love and unbelievable support and strength – every single day, night, hour, minute and second.  We had a close and loving relationship before this crisis, but through it and after it what we have was and is so much more than I can even explain. What a gift we were given in finding out (the hard way) how much love and support was a part of our relationship.

Thankfully as my body and spirit began healing and got better and stronger as time went on, Gary and I made one of the best decisions of our lives.  We joined the Komen Austin Family as volunteers for Race for the Cure.  We began our relationship with Komen Austin as volunteers on the food & beverage committee. Gary helped the committee chair’s husband, Ray, with water stops. I was given the task of finding Spirit Teams/Groups that would encourage the racers by singing, clapping and encouraging them along the way.


Race for the Cure

I can’t complete my story without putting on my Race for the Cure hat and encouraging you to participate in this year’s 18th Annual Race for the Cure.

I Race to honor those who have lost their battle to breast cancer and to celebrate survivors.  I also Race to raise critical funds and awareness. If you have already participated and registered, THANK YOU!  If you haven’t, please consider forming a team and walking or running with your family/friends/co-workers and whoever you invite to join your team.  It’s so much fun and does so much good for our community.  Here are just a few reasons why our Race Teams have so much fun and are so vital:

  1. Teammates inspire and motivate each other before and during the Race.
  2. A team can be a way for you to provide moral support for a friend or family member who is going through breast cancer treatment or is a survivor.
  3. Team Contests (largest team, top fundraising team, t-shirt contest)
  4. Forming a team is easy and at no extra cost.
  5. Best of all, teams raise more money! By raising money, these teams help us reach our ultimate goal of eradicating breast cancer that much sooner!

Funds raised by our teams are used to provide screenings, education and treatment support for the people in our community with a breast cancer diagnosis.  This is done through the funding Komen Austin makes to our Grantees.

Photos 2015 - Komen Amplify Austin Stacy 1

Stacy Mefford

We would not be able to support our local Grantees without the fundraising; so, please register for Race for the Cure and consider forming a team or register as an individual and support all the women, and men, in our community who have been affected by breast cancer.

In conclusion, I would like to report that I am healthy, but continue to go for my regular health exams each year.  I’m my own health advocate and take that job very seriously.  I urge you to do the same.

Do Men Get Breast Cancer? One Man’s Story…

By: Jamie Reaser

The morning of November 5, 2014, my surgeon gave me the news that I had breast cancer. BREAST CANCER! How could I have breast cancer? I’m a 65 year old male. I can’t have breast cancer. I’m a man with breast cancer? This just can’t be.

Back in early May of 2014, I found a lump underneath my left nipple. After a mammogram, the diagnosis was a non-cancerous mass. It was just pea-sized. Probably just a cyst.

In October, I started to notice that my nipple had flattened and the lump had gotten larger so I went back to the doctor. The visit progressed from a mammography to a biopsy. The results didn’t come back for a week.

I didn’t hear hardly anything after the surgeon said those terrifying four words: “You have breast cancer.”

Once I was outside of the clinic and in my car, the tears started flowing. I called Glenn (my partner) and told him the bad news. Just hearing him say “we will get through this” helped to calm me. Glenn was truly my rock. My wonderful coworkers greeted me with lots of hugs when I went into work that day.

At my first appointment with my oncologist, I was given the choice between two methods of treatment. I could have surgery first and then chemo, or the chemo first to shrink the tumor. I decided to go with the chemo first. But before that, I had surgery to implant a port to make it easier to administer the chemo and the many, many blood draws.

I was very lucky to have minimal adverse reactions to the first round of chemo. The 1st round consisted of 4 treatments 3 weeks apart. Once that was done I was to have 12 more treatments a week apart. I only lasted through 2 treatments in the 2nd part. I already suffered from neuropathy in my feet due to 25 years as a diabetic and the new rounds of chemo exasperated it so I decided to stop it.

I wouldn’t have made it through all of this if it were not for my partner of 40 years, Glenn, and all of my coworkers in the accounting department at Riata Ford.

The surgery on May 29, 2015 went smoothly and Dr. Brown was able to remove all of the cancer and I am “cancer free”.


Breast Cancer Among Men

About one percent of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. occur in men. Since men have breast tissue, they can get breast cancer. The warning signs for breast cancer in men are the same that women get. Change in the size or shape of the breast, lump thickening in the breast, chest or underarm area, or dimpling, puckering or redness of the skin of the breast. Treatment for breast cancer in men is similar to treatment for women: surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Survival is highest when breast cancer is found early. If you notice any of the warning signs or other changes in your breast, chest or nipple, see a doctor right away.