Sept. 29, 2011
BY JOHN PAINTER
The University of Tennessee's history of promoting National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Knoxville Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is a proud one.
All Lady Vols teams host an annual "pink event" for breast cancer, and UT's Zeta Tau Alpha sorority supports breast cancer as its chief philanthropy.
Now this Saturday, in conjunction with Tennessee's home football game against Buffalo, the UT community once again is looking for new supporters in the fight against a disease that killed approximately 40,000 women in the United States in 2010.
"The main message is just for women to be aware and use the resources available," said Dr. Allison Dooley, OB/GYN and wife of Vols head coach Derek Dooley. Dr. Dooley is a longtime active fundraiser and serves on the local Susan G. Komen board of directors.
"Even for women who don't have insurance, there are resources in the community to help them get mammograms," Dr. Dooley added. "There are things available no matter what, insurance or not, and you need to be getting your screenings."
Dr. Dooley says approximately 200,000 women in this country were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, with 1-in-5 of those cases leading to death. Tennessee's numbers for 2011 were nearly identical, with 5,000 women diagnosed and 900 deaths.
Early Detection Key
Early detection is the key, but Dr. Dooley says women sometimes are guilty of overlooking their own needs.
"We're typically busy taking care of our families and our kids, and sometimes we're the last person we get to," she said. "Women can be like that. It sneaks up on you and you don't realize you're not taking care of yourself."
Recent studies suggest that U.S. women over 40 mistakenly believe they are past the danger zone when it comes to breast cancer. In fact, the American Cancer Society reports that women ages 50-64 make up the largest number of breast cancer cases in the United States.
"The main risk factors are, No. 1, being a female - men can get it too but you're at a higher risk being female - and aging," Dr. Dooley said. "That means the older you get, the higher your risk is going to be."
Dr. Dooley mentioned men also are at risk, although the numbers are 1/100th of those facing females. The U.S. numbers for men in 2010 were 1,900 diagnosed cases with 400 deaths.
"We probably have better access than most places in the world, but certainly a lot of women, even those who have insurance who could get their mammograms, don't always go," Dr. Dooley said. "We just want everyone to be aware that there are resources available."
Kickoff Saturday is 12:30 p.m.
The Knoxville Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure chose six breast cancer survivors and one guest each to receive pregame field passes and tickets to Saturday's UT-Buffalo game. All six are longtime UT fans who wrote essays describing their survival stories.
"Pink and orange are not colors that often go together, but for me they are the perfect match. I graduated from UT in 2004 and my husband and I immediately joined the Young Alumni Association to make sure we wouldn't miss another football game. I was 35 weeks pregnant with my daughter when I learned I had breast cancer at age 27. Having completed 10 full marathons and six half-marathons, I know the dedication it takes to persevere in competition. I am fighting the competition of my life! As athletes we support each other. That's why even though I had surgery the day before last year's season opener against UT Martin, I made sure I was at the stadium to cheer on my Vols! As my battle with cancer continues, I remember my two favorite colors. To me, orange is a symbol of strength and pink a symbol of hope - the perfect match!"
"My dad worked the night shift until I was almost 6 years old, so I missed out on a lot of bonding time. He didn't always show much affection, but he instilled values in us. But when I got the call informing me I had metastatic breast cancer, my dad stood by me. This past September when starting reconstruction gave me an infection that almost killed me, he spent a good portion of my 30-day stay in the hospital beside my bed, forcing me to eat and washing my hair because I could barely move. My dad has been able to go to one UT football game his entire life. It is by far his favorite sport, but he has never really been able to afford to go. I would love to take him and be able to show him the affection I have in my heart for everything he did for and was recognized for."
Jan Sica (written by Jinni Redmond)
"My mom, Jan Sica, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2008. In the three years since, she has tried eight different kinds of chemo radiation and two clinical trials, yet the cancer is now spreading. Through this entire nightmare, she has remained strong and faithful. My mom is spending her retirement to fight this disease. Our family has always been one of Mom's top priorities in life. She has attended and supported all her children's and grandchildren's activities as possible. One of her grandsons, my son, is a freshman at UT this year. He has received the honor as a freshman to play the snare for the Pride of the Southland Marching Band. Mom would love to watch him fulfill his dream of marching on that field and opening the T in front of 100,000 fans. I also believe being there Oct. 1 and seeing the stadium in pink will be a very uplifting event."
"I am a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in October 2010. I was called with the diagnoses of IDC, stage 1, triple negative and not genetic, also a very aggressive form of the cancer. I have had all kinds of support through my cancer. But Karen Larabee, my friend, has supported me through this. After my lumpectomy surgery, Karen took a day off from work and brought me food and called me almost every day. During my chemo, she would always schedule us things to do to get me out of the house. She often brought my children and me meals, since she knew I didn't feel like cooking at times. My last chemo session was March 10. Karen took me and afterward we celebrated by having a late lunch. I am very blessed to have a friend like Karen to encourage me to do my checks and to walk with me through this whole process.
"My breast cancer story started in January of this year. My father, David Hembree, has been such a big help to Phil, my husband, and Maecy, my 6-year-old daughter, since January and I feel taking Daddy with me to Neyland Stadium would be a great way to show him my appreciation. Daddy worked at the Training Table in 1957 and I would love for him to see how much Neyland has changed in all those years. Back in 1957, the football players lived in the stadium so Daddy would get to serve the football team, including Gen. Neyland. Daddy is 71, and driving from Rockwood to Kingsport as much as he has this year has been hard on him and my mother. They've never been upset around me, even though I know it has to be hard watching your 42-year-old daughter go through this. Phil, my husband, also is an eight-year cancer survivor."
Allen Kaiser (written by Becky Spain-Kaiser)
"I would love this opportunity for my husband, Allen. We have been married 12 years, and have two sons, ages 7 and 5. He served 20 years in the Army, worked at Sam's club for 18 years, is a great dad and an all-around good guy. A few months ago, when I `tweaked' him playfully, I felt a good sized lump on his chest. That very afternoon I made him an appointment with his family doctor, who referred him to a general surgeon. He later was diagnosed with DCIS and also Invasive Ductal Carcinoma grade III stage 1. I never thought I would accompany my husband to his first mammogram before I even had one. He loves UT football and has always wanted me to go to a game with him. I love the marching band light years more than football, BUT a day with Allen attending something he loves would be great for me as well."