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.
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.
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:
- Teammates inspire and motivate each other before and during the Race.
- 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.
- Team Contests (largest team, top fundraising team, t-shirt contest)
- Forming a team is easy and at no extra cost.
- 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.
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.