ME: daughter, sister, aunt, wife, friend, cat mom, CANCER HATER!
ME= average Joe
SHE: daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, friend, grandmother, CANCER WARRIOR!
SHE WAS MY FRIEND, BARB
Teresa's Friend Barb
She was a bright light, kind hearted and just a beautiful woman. She entered my life almost 25 years ago. She interviewed me for a job. A job at her family's fuel oil company. She intimidated me, scared me and intrigued me all at the same time. She gave me the job, I'M STILL THERE!
She tested me, pushed me, believed in me and I think eventually she loved me. She told me, "Don't get married on Valentine's Day, you'll only ever get one gift" I didn't listen and she was right. I was planning a Valentine's Day wedding, she was helping me and meanwhile something was lurking in her breast. Several days after the wedding, she and her hubby went to Florida. They had a house there they used to avoid stress of a business and of course Maryland winters. There was something wrong with her breast. A doctor visit, a mammogram and a diagnosis, Inflammatory Breast Cancer.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer or IBC, rarely causes breast lumps and may not appear on mammogram. Instead of lumps it presents itself in other strange ways that makes ladies
think they have something else going on. Red, swollen, itchy breasts that are tender to the touch are just a few signs. The surface maybe pitted, like an orange peel. Burning, aching, and even inverted nipples are some other symptoms of IBC. And while I have your attention let me give you a great reason ladies to have your yearly mammogram. ONE IN EIGHT women will develop invasive Breast Cancer during her lifetime. So get that mammogram, it could save your life!!
She was a Cancer Warrior! A mastectomy took her breast, chemo took her hair, but nothing was going to dampen her spirit! She was a fighter! She inspired me to get involved, raise awareness and make a difference!
In her honor, the employees I work with sought out a way to join her in her fight. We found in our community, an organization who caterers to Breast Cancer patients. Breast Cancer Awareness Cumberland Valley is a nonprofit organization that provides FREE services to Breast Cancer patients. Some of those services include wigs, hats, turbans, prosthesis, bras, meals during treatment, cleaning services, mammogram's, support groups and special needs support. Did I mention all of these services are FREE!! This organization has a 5 mile walk every year to raise funds to help support their services. It is their biggest fundraiser of the year. My fellow employees and I decided to fund raise and walk in her honor. 2019 will mark our 15th year of walking. We have raised with the help of our customers, employees and owners, over $500,000.00.
Breast Cancer Awareness Cumberland Valley Event
Unfortunately, my story does not have a happy ending. Cancer invaded her body again. This time the warrior and fighter could not keep Cancer from weakening her wings. In June, 2006 she traded her weak wings for a set of beautiful Angel Wings! My heart and soul was broken. What could I do to help heal my broken heart? Action, passion, courage and hope set in. I decided I did not want to stand in the dark sidelines and not help others with Breast Cancer just because I had lost my friend. Stand up in her memory, tell her story, and make a difference in someone's life is what I chose to do.
I got more involved with BCACV. I joined their board of directors and would eventually become Board President. I have helped dozens of Breast Cancer patients through their journey of hope and survival.
But my story needed a nudge. What else could average Joe do to make a difference? Well, a friend of mine went on this trip to Key West on his bike. Comes home and tells me what a great trip it was and how it changed him. Do they need drivers, I say? No bike riding for this old girl, but do I love to drive! I sign up, expanding my horizons, breaking out of my comfort zone and traveling with 34 strangers to Key West. The organization, Ulman Foundation ( aka- The Ulman Cancer Fund For Young Adults), accepted me to support their bike riders in 2015. Everyone on this trip would have a connection in their life to Cancer. Whether they lost a child, spouse, sibling, parent or were a Cancer survivor themselves, we all had a common connection. I was able to share my story
about HER and how losing her effected my life. I was able to cry and talk through my feelings of hurt and hopelessness that HER death caused in my life.
Teresa on the Key to Key's Trips
It was on that magical trip that changed my life that I met this shy and timid young lady, Olivia Marquart. First day, she looked as nervous and scared as me. Why is she here?
I'm told she has Cancer. NOOOOO! What do I say I found out that I didn't need to say anything. I just needed to listen! We experienced two great trips together. We were van mates, roomies, and fast friends! Both, love animals, from Pennsylvania, a bit mouthy with a megaphone, curse like a sailor and enjoy having fun! I have been blessed to travel with Ulman on4 experiences to Key West. What did I gain from those trips, 120 additional friends who understand my story.
Today, 2019, I continue to strive to make her proud. I try to help change the lives of people, I know and don't know, with Cancer! I try to always remember what SHE stood for and what she went through when she battled. I try everyday to make a difference in someone's life. Why, for Her!