Through a survivor’s eye

By Ashley Cook
October 13, 2006

October is breast cancer awareness month. But of course all of you knew this.or did you? Before I wrote this article I knew absolutely nothing about this cancer, but because of good researching sites and sources, I was able to learn enough information I needed.

In order to be able to tell you about what breast cancer is and what it might be like to have it, I first had to imagine what it would be like to walk in a breast cancer patient’s shoes.

After researching the cancer, I thought a lot about what it might be like to be diagnosed. I could not imagine going through all the treatments necessary and having to live each day in fear. The dedication and effort the medical staff goes through everyday is amazing and they truly are lifesavers. I would hope that anyone who does get diagnosed would catch the cancer in its early stages.

If I was diagnosed, I would first tell my mother, because she is my best friend. I would ask for her advice and support. I would follow all of the procedures– radiology, possibly chemotherapy, and recovery. I believe anyone who has a strong will power and positive attitude towards life, can overcome the cancer and continue to live their life normally.

According to, this year more than 212,000 women will be diagnosed with the terrifying disease of breast cancer, and many of those cases will be fatal. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women, but what can be done to prevent it?

Whether it’s walking for the cure, selling pink wristlets or pink ribbon pins, or participating in local fund raisers, cities and communities are working together to raise awareness about breast cancer. I would suggest auctions and sports games dedicated to breast cancer awareness because these ideas could raise money for the cure and help the public become more aware.

“Fight it!” Joanne Mattioni, health services secretary, said as advice to other women diagnosed with the cancer. Relating her personal experiences with it, she said, “I was not willing to go down without a fight.” Her office was filled with pictures of flowers and her aura gave me the impression that she surrounds herself in a pleasant atmosphere, much like how she has been feeling since her recent recovery of breast cancer this fall.

I was extremely unfamiliar with breast cancer until I spoke with Mattioni. Her personal experience made me realize just how important it is to get a routine mammogram, an x-ray of the breast, around the age of 35-40. Using the website, I learned a lot of important information about the cancer such as how to lower your risk, treatment, where to get support throughout your community and where are the best places online to research. Mattioni was an extremely useful source and her information was very reliable. Mattioni also made a topic I was very unfamiliar about very interesting for me.

With so much money spent and donated to funds related to breast cancer research today, there is so much information about the cancer for example, its effects, treatments, research news and recovery. Even a new hormone has been created for patients in recovery.

During this past summer, Mattioni went through the procedures necessary to fight the cancer. Everyday for six weeks Mattioni had to go to radiation, she described the experience as, “Not fun.” She said, “Not being able to do the things you’re always used to doing was difficult, the run of the mill things I was just too tired to do.”

The support of her family and the faculty at Cabrini really helped her fight the cancer. When first diagnosed she stated “I didn’t want to die, no.I’m not ready. You don’t realize how much you want to do with your life until you have an experience like this.”

Mattioni’s story really had an effect on how I feel about this issue. Breast cancer was something I knew nothing but now, I find myself wanting to know more and more about it. I hope more people will become aware of this cancer and volunteer to work to find a cure. There is so much money put towards this cancer, there is no excuse for more improvements and break-throughs in the medical field.

I never realized how important something as simple as a routine check-up can be, but now I am more willing to take the extra step to tell others. Mattioni described herself as a “walking billboard,” and I will take it upon myself to also encourage breast cancer awareness.

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Ashley Cook

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