Perry County Survivor Driven to Help Others

Posted By on September 16th, 2015 at 8:27 am | 0 comments.

helen-michener-for-plHelen Michener, Perry County

I spent most of my nursing career in pediatrics but occasionally would also moonlight a few shifts a week in oncology. I decided then and there that if breast cancer ever happened to me I would have a mastectomy to feel like the cancer was gone. It DID happen to me. And my life changed forever.

My routine mammogram in October 2013 revealed areas of calcification that weren’t there the year before. I was very lucky that it hadn’t spread to the lymph nodes and it was in the early stage. I didn’t need chemo or radiation after the surgery and I’m taking tamoxifen for five years.

I feel like I breezed through it physically, but not emotionally. It changes your life. At first I wanted to just forget about it and not tell people because I didn’t want it to define me. I learned though how to integrate breast cancer into who I am rather than integrating myself into breast cancer. One of the ways I did that was to embrace the community I’m now part of with the PBCC. I visited Kristen Snoke, PBCC Community Outreach Director to discuss how I could help. It seemed like raising funds through grassroots efforts would be a good fit for me. I created a wine-tasting event, Toasting for a Cure at the Vineyard in the spring and we made $8,355. I now know that that’s very good for a first-time effort. I’m planning a fall fundraiser called Drive Out Breast Cancer, and hope to get car dealerships to donate $25 for every new car they sell throughout the month of October.

My husband Bob and I live in an intentional community of seven families who own a 140-acre farm together. It was a great place to raise our children. We have a son and a daughter and two granddaughters. My granddaughter Amelia was ten years old when I was diagnosed and she said, “You talked to Mommy for a long time and now she’s sad. Breast cancer, that’s bad, isn’t it?” I told her, “No, honey, it doesn’t have to be.” Amelia and Kasey are both part of Art Symphony for a Cause and make crafts they sell for nonprofits. They came to the wine tasting and made $170 to donate to the PBCC. The PBCC tagline “finding a cure for breast cancer now … so our daughters won’t have to” really speaks to my heart.

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