Cancer survivors Beth Ross and Bart White
Cancer survivors Beth Ross and Bart White have walked a path that more than 36,000 Tennesseans are estimated to go down this year. But they, and other survivors, have emerged stronger and represent hope to those currently fighting cancer.
Now, they are being recognized as honorary chairmen for the American Cancer Society’s Black Out Cancer event from 7-11 p.m. Friday at the Hampton Centré in Union City. Tickets are currently available for this dress up/dress down event.
Mrs. Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 at age 35 after she discovered a lump on her breast and underwent a mammogram. “I had a lumpectomy first and didn’t have clean margins,” she explained. “After that, I decided to have a double mastectomy.”
She also underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy, but received support from her medical team, family and friends.
Now, she says staying healthy is a top priority. “I feel it is important to keep up with my checkups with my doctor,” Mrs. Ross said. “I think helping find a cure for cancer is another important thing.”
Her husband, Tab, echoed that point. “We cannot let cancer define us. We do have to support organizations that fight cancer with our prayers, time and money. It is important that we continue to live our lives and share our story.”
Fellow breast cancer survivor Pamela Meadows agreed and said her experience taught her how to laugh more and placed life in a new perspective. “I now appreciate every day and take nothing for granted. Cancer is not allowed to touch my love for life,” she said.
Similar to Mrs. Ross, Ms. Meadows first discovered her lump, then saw her doctor. She then underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, received tamoxifen and then had her lymph nodes removed. Scientists supported by the American Cancer Society research grants showed the effectiveness for lumpectomy and radiation for some breast cancers, as well as that tamoxifen was useful in preventing breast cancer occurrence and reducing incidents in high-risk women.
Research is one way support of the American Cancer Society impacts local lives. Currently, Tennessee has 24 ACS-funded research grants totaling $9.9 million to institutions like the University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
White, multiple myeloma survivor, is a supporter of research, even being part of a program with the Myeloma Institute of Research, plus cancer-fighting groups like Hometown Walk of Hope, St. Jude and the American Cancer Society. White was diagnosed in 2008 after suffering severe rib and back pain.
He eventually found his way to Little Rock, Ark., and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences which put him on a year protocol that involved chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. White said while the entire process of battling cancer, undergoing treatments and traveling was taxing, his wife, his daughters, faith and family and friends provided tremendous support, love and encouragement to help him along his journey.
“We had our families, friends, church and community praying for us,” White recalled. “Prayer is a very good and strong friend to have in times like this and always. God has certainly been with us and His love makes us so strong.”
His wife, Jean Ann, agreed. She said that while she felt like she had been given a crash course in nursing, outside support helped them through their difficult times. “I feel very fortunate and so thankful I was able to be with him through it all. I could not have done it without the help from our families.”
Support of ACS, through events like Black Out Cancer, Runway for a Cure and Relay for Life, also helps with educational work through information and online resources to promote prevention and early detection to help people stay well, as well as programs and services to help people get well like Reach to Recovery breast cancer support program and Hope Lodge facilities in Memphis and Nashville, where patients can stay for free while undergoing treatment.
Since September 2011, 12 patients in Obion County have been served by a Reach to Recovery visit, which pairs a breast cancer survivor with a newly-diagnosed patient. Also this year, four individuals from Obion County have stayed 54 nights at a Hope Lodge facility, saving an estimated $6,700 in total hotel costs.
Additional assistance is available, including 24/7 access to a cancer information specialist by calling 1-800-227-2345, or by going online to www.cancer.org to learn information about specific cancers and also link to available local resources.
“Cancer is an ugly, scary word. You’ll face challenges you never thought possible, and it’s okay to have that fear and be angry and to ask for help,” Ms. Meadows added, saying she received support and assistance from the American Cancer Society and Obion County’s Hometown Walk of Hope. “But don’t let it take over your life. So I want to encourage all women, even younger women, to get a mammogram, go to that yard sale or bean supper, or just donate for someone cancer has touched.”
Black Out Cancer tickets are available for $30 in advance or $35 at the door. Table tickets are also available for $200 for eight seats. The night will begin with a “black carpet” entrance and will feature music by the Rock Hill band, heavy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar with signature drinks, as well as a silent auction.
For more information or tickets, contact Emily Anne Sparks at (731) 796-1194 or Elizabeth Johnson at (662) 231-2404. For more information on the American Cancer Society and local programs and services, contact the Jackson office at (731) 664-1084 or visit cancer.org.
Published in The Messenger 4.30.13