Life After Cancer Treatment

By: Katie Austin

While battling the big “C” four years ago, I quit doing almost everything.  I put all that I loved to do aside so that I could focus my energy to rid myself of this demon.  After treatment was over and I was declared to be in full remission (applause!), the challenge for me was, what next?  What am I going to do now with my life?  Will I ever be normal again?

faith

What I discovered is that I was so focused on fighting my cancer that once the treatment was over, I wanted to jump right back into the pool of life and do EVERYTHING that I had stopped doing. I got back out onto the competitive volleyball court (physically wasn’t ready), worked long hours at the computer and went back to college (mentally wasn’t ready), and put aside all of the emotions that come with fighting cancer. I was able to keep things going for a few years, myself going all the time and everyone around me thinking that I am happy, doing well and on the road to a complete recovery.  What I didn’t see coming happened this year.

Sometimes it takes just one situation to bring everything to a complete stop. A good friend of mine at work recently passed away from cancer.  I was devastated.  Two years ago, when she returned to work after beating colon cancer the first time, we would spend time talking about diet, foods we found that helped to offset the side effects we were experiencing, and how excited we were to be in remission.  I hadn’t seen her for almost a year after her cancer came back.  When I heard of her passing, I collapsed at my desk, in shock, as I couldn’t believe she was gone. I wouldn’t be walking the first lap of next year’s Relay for Life with her.  Our talks were gone.  My friend was gone.

I went to her funeral the following Sunday to say good-bye and remember the beautiful spirit that had come into my life. This was the icing on the cake, the straw that broke the camel’s back, the card on the house of cards that would tumble everything downward.

I was depressed.  I wasn’t happy and I had to stop long enough to allow myself time to heal.  Plain and simple.  I hadn’t dealt with the emotions that come with fighting cancer and the fear that it could come back that will be with me forever. I needed to find out what my new normal was.

“If you are always trying to be normal,

you will never know how amazing you can be”

–Maya Angelou

I am making small changes to my diet, adding exercise to my routine, and staying active. When those emotions come out, I allow myself time to process them.  I am re-prioritizing things in my life so that my focus is where it needs to be.  My health was farther down on the list than I thought it was.  How can I do all the things I want to do if I am not healthy?  What was I thinking??

What I learned is that life after cancer is a process.  I am not where I want to be, but I have to be ok with where I am right now.  It’s about taking small steps to make small changes that will become lifetime changes.  More to come on this in my next blog post. 🙂

For those fighting cancer, I am praying for you and sending many well wishes your way!  Remember to stay in the moment and allow your body time to heal and rest. Remember that this is a process.  I wanted to share a link from the National Cancer Institute (below) that found to be helpful in my healing process.

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/life-after-treatment.pdf

Wishing each of you a great day and I look forward to seeing you back on the Every Woman Blog!

~ Katie Austin

LMC Receives Susan G. Komen Foundation Grant for Mammogram Screening

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Lexington Medical Center has received a grant from the Susan G. Komen For the Cure Foundation’s SC Mountains to Midlands affiliate to provide 230 breast cancer screenings for uninsured and underinsured women in the Midlands.

Lexington Medical Center will begin offering the screenings to women who meet specific financial requirements. The grant money can also be used to assist with transportation to Women’s Imaging Centers in Lexington Medical Center’s network of care.

“We have always been able to help women who need diagnostic mammograms, but screening mammograms were more difficult to provide,” said Kelly Jeffcoat, Lexington Medical Center Breast Cancer Nurse Navigator. “The Komen grant enables us to offer screening mammograms which are often successful in detecting breast cancer in its earliest stages.”
The goal is early detection and treatment. Clinicians know that early detection is key to successful treatment of breast cancer.

“The biggest problem with patients who are uninsured is that they rarely have access to routine screening mammography.” said Chris Gibson, Lexington Medical Center oncology social worker.  “With these screenings, we have the potential to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages when cure rates are much higher.”
Lexington Medical Center diagnoses approximately 250 breast cancer patients each year.  The hospital’s breast program is accredited by 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.  During treatment, breast cancer patients receive the assistance of a nurse navigator who provides education and emotional support. Lexington Medical Center’s cancer program is also accredited with commendation by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

This is the second time that this chapter of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has awarded Lexington Medical Center a grant for breast cancer screenings.  The first one was in 2011 and provided approximately 250 screenings to women in the Midlands. During those screenings, two breast cancers were detected. This year, the hospital expanded the number of counties included in the grant, allowing a broader group of women in the Midlands to benefit from screening mammograms.

For more information about the grant screenings, including eligibility requirements, call 803- 791-2521.

About Lexington Medical Center

Lexington Medical Center, in West Columbia, S.C., anchors a county-wide health care network that includes six community medical centers throughout Lexington County and employs a staff of 5,900 health care professionals.  The network also includes the largest extended care facility in the Carolinas, an occupational health center and more than 60 physician practices.  At its heart is the 414-bed state-of-the-art Lexington Medical Center, with a reputation for the highest quality care.  Lexington Medical Center won “Best Hospital” by readers of The State for ten years in a row, “Best Hospital” by readers of the Free Times, “Best Place to Have a Baby” by readers of Palmetto Parent, the “Consumer Choice Award” from the National Research Corporation and the prestigious “Summit Award” from Press Ganey.  Visit http://www.lexmed.com.

About the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the world’s largest breast cancer organization.  It was started by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever.  Komen’s SC Mountains to Midlands affiliate is one of 125 affiliates around the nation dedicated to ending breast cancer in our communities.  Komen affiliates fund innovative programs that help women and men overcome the barriers to breast cancer screening and treatment.  For more information, visit http://www.komenscmm.org.

T.G.F.A.D.

By: Katie Austin

By the middle of every week (sometimes by the end of Monday), I find myself looking forward to Friday, knowing that the weekend is almost here.  Then, come Sunday evening, the Monday blues settle in as I prepare myself for another work week.  I wonder where the time has gone and notice the weeks are moving faster as I get older.  Even as I write this, I can’t believe we are almost to May! I begin to wonder how I can capture the Friday-feel-good feeling every day during the week. Wouldn’t it be great if every day were Friday?!  Of course. But how can I bottle up this feeling so that I can spritz it on at the start of each day?

Then, it hits me! The light bulb over my head is aglow and I realize that I can feel like it’s Friday every day!  How, you ask?  All we need to do is change the way we look at those “other” days during the week. Yes, even Monday 🙂  Now, I look at every day as Thank God For Another Day.  Instead of being thankful for just Friday and being happy that I made it to the end of the work week, I try to remind myself that I am thankful each day that I wake up. I am thankful to have a job, a wonderful group of family and friends, and the opportunity to make each day one to remember.

T.G.F.A.D.

I know some of you are thinking, “Katie, take off those rose-colored glasses!”   But as I bring those rose-colored glasses to the end of my nose, I peek over the top of them to ask one simple question: if you knew today would be your last, would you feel the same way??  No matter what is going on in your life, you can find something positive when you look at life differently.  Believe that no matter what happens today, if you are given another day, things can change. We should look forward to tomorrow!  I am thankful even for the bad days, as I realize I am a strong person and that life events prepare us for future challenges.  I wouldn’t have made it through my breast cancer battle without first getting stronger from my past struggles.  You can and you will get through life hurdles, small and tall, when you believe that you can and when you are thankful for every day.

Life has a way of speeding up as we get older.  I think we should pause often, be thankful, and appreciate each day for what it’s worth.  Seize the day and make it one to remember!

Katie

Learn the Pink Glove Dance!

This year for our Pink Glove Dance Video, we were fortunate to have Stacy Ashley be our choreographer once again!  This is the second year in a row that Lexington Medical Center is entering the international Pink Glove Dance video contest sponsored by Medline Industries, Inc., a company that makes pink exam gloves.  The project honors cancer survivors and raises awareness about breast cancer.

Our hospital’s 2012 Pink Glove Dance features the compelling story of Lexington Medical Center nurse Amy Kinard of Lexington, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 34.  The video is shot in our hospital and around our community – including at a highly-energized Williams-Brice Stadium, on a special pink glove skydiving adventure and inside a rock star celebration of cancer survivors.

And this year, we’re excited to share with you some of the dance moves featured in the video, choreographed by Stacy Ashley:

Vote for Lexington Medical Center’s Pink Glove Dance by going to www.pinkglovedance.com, searching on the “L-M” age for LMC and clicking “Vote” on our video.  You must have a Facebook account to vote.  Lexington Medical Center is the only Columbia area hospital entering the competition.  Voting for the Pink Glove Dance 2012 is from October 12th to November 2nd – there’s only one week left to go!

The winner will receive $10,000 to donate to a breast cancer charity of its choice.  Lexington Medical Center would donate its prize money to the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research, as it did last year.

To take one of Stacy’s classes, check out Gold’s Gym located at 619 North Lake Drive, Lexington, SC 29072.

Lexington Medical Center Leads Pink Glove Dance Voting

Lexington Medical Center is currently in first place in voting for the 2012 Pink Glove Dance competition.  As of Monday morning, October 22nd, Lexington Medical Center had 11,900 votes.  Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center was in 2nd place with 7,096 votes.

While Lexington Medical Center maintains a lead of more than 4,800 votes, Penn State and other organizations are gaining momentum steadily and narrowing the gap.  We still have a long way to go in the Pink Glove Dance campaign and anything can happen.  Vote for Lexington Medical Center’s Pink Glove Dance by going to www.pinkglovedance.com, searching on the “L-M” age for LMC and clicking “Vote” on our video.  You must have a Facebook account to vote.

As you may know, the Pink Glove Dance website crashed last weekend during the first days of voting – because so many people were trying to log on and vote for their favorite video.  As a result, Medline has extended voting until Friday, November 2.

Our hospital’s 2012 Pink Glove Dance features the compelling story of Lexington Medical Center nurse Amy Kinard of Lexington, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 34.  The video is shot in our hospital and around our community – including at a highly-energized Williams-Brice Stadium, on a special pink glove skydiving adventure and inside a rock star celebration of cancer survivors.


In total, approximately 1,000 Lexington Medical Center employees dancing to the Katy Perry song “Part of Me” in the video.  In addition to high energy and Broadway style choreography, there are special effects, smoke, strobe lights and more.  Importantly, the dance features several LMC employees who are breast cancer survivors; they’re wearing t-shirts that say “Survivor from Day 1,” noting the strength and courage of breast cancer patients right from the time of their diagnosis.  “Survivor From Day 1” is the theme of this year’s video.

The winner will receive $10,000 to donate to a breast cancer charity of its choice.  Lexington Medical Center would donate its prize money to the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research, as it did last year.

Lexington Medical Center is the only Columbia area hospital entering the competition.  Voting for the Pink Glove Dance 2012 is from October 12th to November 2nd.  So, please vote today – and encourage your family and friends to vote too!

Shop and Support Breast Cancer Awareness

By: Staci Rutherford

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, there are many designers and retailers that are helping to educate the masses while giving back to causes devoted to awareness, education and research in the fight against breast cancer.  Show your support during the month of October by shopping pink!  Check out some of my fabulous finds that also make great gifts:

Essie Breast Cancer Color Collection

A portion of the proceeds from the essie breast cancer awareness collection will be donated to “Living Beyond Breast Cancer,” to empower all women affected by breast cancer to live as long as possible with the best quality of life.  Price: $8.00 at Macy’s.

Giuliana Rancic for LOFT Statement Necklace

Fashionista and breast cancer survivor Giuliana Rancic designed this gorgeous rhinestone-studded necklace that represents women coming together.  Twenty-five percent of full-price purchases of the necklace will go directly to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®.  Price: $69.50 at LOFT.

Coach BCA Multi Mix Key Ring

Coach’s limited edition jeweled key ring, a collection of luxuriously enameled signature charms suspended from a delicate silver-plated chain. During the month of October, Coach will donate 20% of this purchase to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Price: $58.00 at Coach.

Tory Burch Limited-Edition Pink Hardshell Phone Case

Tory Burch partnered with The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® to create this exclusive hardshell iPhone 4/4S case, in a graphic pink needlepoint print. Price: $48.00 at ToryBurch.com.

BCRF iPad Sleeve – Canvas Pop-Up Pink

Designed to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts to find a cure, this cute, canvas iPad sleeve is inscribed with an inspiring message.  It’s made of cotton canvas/leather and fits iPad 2 models. $15 from sale of each iPad cover benefits the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Price: $35.00 at Bloomingdales.com.

Awake “Live Love Hope” Tee

From October 1st through October 31st, 10% of the net sales from the Awake tee will be donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®. Price: $24.00 at Macy’s.

Belk Breast Cancer Awareness collection

Belk has partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and has pledged a $3 million donation minimum over 3 years for the fight against breast cancer.  Visit your local Belk to shop the collection of apparel, accessories, home and beauty items.

For the second year in a row, Lexington Medical Center is entering the international Pink Glove Dance video contest sponsored by Medline Industries, Inc.  The project honors cancer survivors and raises awareness about breast cancer. To view and vote for Lexington Medical Center’s video, go to pinkglovedance.com.

Bald And Beautiful

October is here and it seems everywhere we look, there is something to remind us that it is breast cancer awareness month.   There are events, fundraisers, commercials and articles to get people thinking about their breast health.   I am a 2-year breast cancer survivor and I want to do all that I can to spread the word as knowledge is power!

One recent message really hit home with me and I wanted to share it with my Every Woman family.  If you haven’t heard already, country music star, Kellie Pickler, recently caused quite a buzz (literally). She shaved off all of her hair in support of her childhood friend, Summer Miller, who is currently battling breast cancer.  Summer received the devastating news in June 2012 and Kellie wanted to show her support.  Take a minute to watch the video and make sure you have a few tissues.

Wasn’t that amazing?! Watching them shave their heads reminded me of the time when I shaved my hair off.  I felt the same way and while watching their moment, I remembered mine like it was just yesterday.   When I first touched my head, I could feel that it was gone and then looked into the trash can to see my hair.  At first, I wanted to cry out and ask God to give me my hair back.   But instead, he gave me strength, which I really needed over those next few months I would need it!   Watching their story reminded me of my breast friend, Brandy, and how her friendship helped to lift my spirit on many days that I just didn’t want to fight anymore.

Katie with her best friend, Brandy

Life is a series of hurdles and as we get over each one, we become stronger, more ready to face the next challenge.    Our hair would just get in the way of our cancer battle so by shaving it off, we stand tall, ready to fight.

To all my pink sisters – I wish you good health, happiness and many, many birthdays!!

Do you know someone fighting breast cancer right now?  Post their story here so that we can lift them up, pray for them,and post a message to let them know that they are not alone. 🙂

For the second year in a row, Lexington Medical Center is entering the international Pink Glove Dance video contest sponsored by Medline Industries, Inc.  The project honors cancer survivors and raises awareness about breast cancer. To view and vote for Lexington Medical Center’s video, go to pinkglovedance.com.