Archive for February, 2018

“I was 25 years old at the time.” Young Survivor Fights on, Pursues Doctoral Degree in Public Health

Posted By on February 20th, 2018 at 12:18 pm | 0 comments.

Natasha Renee Burse, Dauphin County
Diagnosed in 2015

When were you diagnosed with breast cancer?

In the summer of 2015. I felt a lump in my breast and went to my family physician for a clinical breast exam. She referred me to a surgeon, then the surgeon ordered an ultrasound and mammogram.  The results showed a tumor and she thought it might be fibro adenoma because of my age.

Why? What was your age?

I was 25 years old at the time.

What happened next? What was your treatment?

The surgeon asked me what I wanted to do, either a needle biopsy or a surgical biopsy. I chose the surgical biopsy for two reasons. I am from Dallas, Texas and was headed to Pennsylvania to pursue a Ph.D. at Pennsylvania State University.

The second reason was that I didn’t want to be awake during the procedure. In June 2015 I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, stage 2. I went to one hospital for diagnosis and a different hospital for treatment.

I had six rounds of chemo, then a double mastectomy, and after that I went through immunotherapy. I chose a double mastectomy because I had a genetic mutation p53. All this went from December 2015 all the way to August 2016 in Texas and then I started school at Penn State in August 2016.

What are you doing currently at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey?

I transferred a doctoral degree in public health at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey in August 2017. My mentor is Dr. Kathryn Schmitz and she’s the reason I transferred here. She’s an exercise interventionist and promotes exercise to limit the side effects of chemotherapy.

Who supported your throughout your treatment process?

The support was multi-faceted, both through the Affordable Care Act and my dad’s insurance during treatment. When I turned 26 in August I got different coverage but the hospital wasn’t accepting my insurance. My friends and family covered some of my expenses via GoFundMe. My mom was my primary caregiver and she devoted everything to getting me better.

How did you come to know about the PA Breast Cancer Coalition?

I was heading to the Broad Street Market in Harrisburg and saw a sign outside the Hilton. I went to the PBCC website and found all the information I needed there.

What was your experience like at the 2017 PBCC Conference?

I applied for a scholarship to the conference. I wouldn’t have been able to come otherwise. I gained so many insights! Dr. Cliff Hudis gave a really great presentation on obesity, breast cancer, and inflammation. I liked how he talked about post-menopausal women who might be obese at diagnosis and may have worse outcomes later and increased inflammation. It’s such an important thing to talk about. We don’t really know if obesity affects the whole cancer continuum from diagnosis to survivorship. It may contribute to all of it. It was cool being there and meeting so many survivors.

Is there something you’d like other women to learn from your story?

The more information you have, the better. Be aware of any changes. I tell people to stay active. The CDC recommends that adults participate in 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. That breaks down to 30 minutes a day for five days a week.

Do you have any advice for someone whose friend or loved one is diagnosed?

Yes. My mom was involved and knew what was going on and was patient with the process and asked a lot of questions. Educate yourself about the topic and find healthy foods to prepare for the patient. Make sure the patient is not sitting around too much, go for a walk with them. Reach out to others who are going through the same thing, maybe with a support group for caregivers.

 

 

 

 

“Let’s Get This Party Started” Fearless Philadelphia Breast Cancer Survivor Faces New Battle

Posted By on February 2nd, 2018 at 9:20 am | 0 comments.

 

Glynis Rhodes, Philadelphia
Diagnosed in 2007

HOW WAS YOUR BREAST CANCER FOUND?
That was with a regular annual mammogram in 2007. I had a lumpectomy and chemo and radiation. I’d been doing well until October 22, 2017 when I diagnosed with uterine cancer which we think may have been a result of some of the chemotherapy drugs. I’m back in chemo but this time it will be every week for 18 weeks with lower doses of chemo. That’ll be better on my body, easier to tolerate. With both diagnoses, whatever the doctor said … boom, boom, boom, I said let’s get this party started.

WHO SUPPORTED YOU THROUGH YOUR JOURNEY?
I had all the support in the world! My mother came and stayed with me for nine months, which was one of the best times of my entire life. We were always close, but being a grown-up and having my mother take care of me made me fall in love with her all over again. My Jehovah’s Witness congregation and my friends not only brought food and treats but also flowers for my mom. They would come and sit with me so she could go out and still do things like get her hair done. The staff at Hahnemann Hospital was phenomenal. I’ve been with them for ten years now and they’ve become like family. When I got my chemo schedule I sent it out and I have a different person going to each appointment from January through April with me.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW ABOUT THE PBCC?
The oncology social worker at the hospital put me in touch with Living Beyond Breast Cancer and some of the women I met there introduced me to the PA Breast Cancer Coalition. My first PBCC conferences were in 2016 and 2017 and I received scholarships both years. I wouldn’t have been able to come otherwise. The first year I wore a little pink and black tutu to the Pink Party and I won the costume contest!

TELL US WHAT YOU LIKED MOST ABOUT THE CONFERENCE.
The speakers were knowledgeable but presented the information in a way that wasn’t over your head. There were topics you could use in your everyday life. I could go home and feel like I absorbed everything and would be able to share it.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN?
It’s important to talk and it’s important to listen. Do not let anyone rob you of how you feel and don’t let anyone else put their story on you. We need to watch what we say to one another. My hair never grew back and every once in a while someone will say that it’s the style now. I don’t want to hear that it’s the style. When it’s not your choice, it’s not a style. And don’t tell me I have a beautiful head. I want hair on top of it like yours.

DO YOU HAVE ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WHOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE IS DIAGNOSED?
It’s not rocket science but you can move mountains when you try. If you’re miles away, send them a card to let them know you’re there for them. Or send them a little gift card that they can use to put gas in their car. I even needed people to read to me because one of the medications made my eyes too watery to read. A little tenderness and thoughtfulness will go a long way.

WHAT IF THE PBCC DIDN’T EXIST?
People would die. Plain and simple. You offer lifesaving programs and information about mammograms and coverage for treatment that people wouldn’t even know about otherwise.