Our Woman Crush Wednesday, Melanie Fitts!

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Melanie Fitts, survivor from Farmington, AR was diagnosed when she was only 24 years old after finding a knot during a self examination. With no family history and testing negative for BRCA Melanie is now working with a doctor in California who does studies on the relationship between cell phones and cancer – her lump was detected in the same spot where she carried her cell during workouts throughout college. Despite many surgeries and hours of radiation, Melanie is positive and works to help other women fight against this terrible disease. Melanie is why we race!

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Meet our Featured Survivor, Deborah Woodard!

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“This is my story”

 

My mother, sister and two cousins are breast cancer survivors along with myself. The Saturday before Mother’s Day I remember examining my breast. The next morning while getting ready for church I noticed tenderness in my left breast.  After church I felt the area and I felt a very small lump. I was in total shock, disbelief, oh my God, surely not, I hope not.  Monday morning at 8 am I called my Gynecologist and made an appointment to be seen that morning. After the breast exam I was scheduled to have a repeat mammogram the next day.  After the test, I saw a surgeon; she then ordered a needle biopsy.  Three days later I was diagnosed with very early stage 1 breast cancer. Three days later I had a lumpectomy and a lymphectomy.  The cancer was only in the lump. On June 26th I started 6 months of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. I see my Oncologist every 6 months for follow-up visits.  Today I’m cancer free and feel “Great”!!  Early detection and prayer is the key to my survival and recovery. I say to all women, “Take care of your body, examine your breasts and get yearly mammograms.”   – Deborah 

Meet Our Featured Survivor, Sarah!

Each week leading up to the Komen Ozark’s 16th Annual Race for the Cure, we will be highlighting a different local survivor.  Each survivor has an important story and message to tell; whether it is early detection, giving back or becoming an advocate for the cause we are so thankful for the women who are giving us an insight into their journeys.

Sarah’s Story

I found a suspicious “lump” and went to the Breast Center on April 16, 2013 for exam and biopsy.  The next day, my pathology report confirmed what I knew.  It was small, but it was cancer.  Then the whirlwind… MRI, surgeon appointments, decisions. 

 Ten days after my pathology report, April 27, Komen Ozark’s Race for the Cure was held.  I had never participated in any of their events.  But, I knew that my daughter, who was living in Fayetteville, was going.  Early that morning I woke to a text message on my phone.  There was a picture of Katie and her friend holding a pink sign with my name on it!  That’s when it all hit!  I knew that the race was to raise money for research and the many programs that Komen has developed, as well as increase awareness of breast cancer.  But, at that moment, it was personal!!  I was suddenly a part of it! 

Since that day, I have been able to participate in the “Pink Luncheon” and “Paint the Park Pink” in Fort Smith.  To me, Komen represents a huge sisterhood of brave women.  A sisterhood that is not easy to join.  A sisterhood that I am honored to be a part of!

 

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Meet Our Woman Crush Wednesday, Kari Nikolish!

Our “Woman Crush Wednesday” today goes to a young breast cancer survivor and Board President for the Ozark Affiliate, Kari Nikolish.  When Kari was 35 years old, she found a lump in her left breast.  Three days after finding the lump, she was able to seek immediate medical attention.

I didn’t have to make the decision between a mammogram and food for my children.

After further testing, Kari was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer at the age of 35.

I met many people during my two years of treatment with much different circumstances and outcomes.  I’ve met even more through my volunteer efforts with Komen the last 5 years.  My blessings since my diagnosis are beyond measure and I’m committed to continue the fight that others have not been able to finish and pay it forward as so many did before me.

Kari is a tireless advocate for Komen Ozark and for quality access to health care for ALL.  She can often be seen presenting to a group about the importance of early detection, discussing why donating to the Komen Ozark affiliate is so important, passing out educational materials at a community event, mentoring a new survivor and much more!

Thank you, Kari and for everything you do you are our “Woman Crush Wednesday!”Image

Meet Our Featured Survivor, Jennifer!

Each week leading up to the Komen Ozark’s 16th Annual Race for the Cure, we will be highlighting a different local survivor.  Each survivor has an important story and message to tell; whether it is early detection, giving back or becoming an advocate for the cause we are so thankful for the women who are giving us an insight into their journeys. 

The Journey of Jennifer GarnerImage

A journey is an act of traveling from one place to another, usually taking a long time. I call the last seven months of my life just that – a journey.   It has been full of bumps, curves and detours. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets have frequented me along the way. I have found amazing people and developed friendships and relationships that I would never trade for anything. I have laughed, I have cried and I have prayed.

My journey began in June 2013 when I was diagnosed with Stage 3 triple negative breast cancer. Like most people, I was stunned. Being only 36 years old, I had not yet had a mammogram. By miracle, I found the tumor myself. The thought of where I would be if I had not found it is unbearable to think about.

Part of my journey has involved developing a relationship with the local Susan G. Komen affiliate. They have been a light in the darkness of my journey. Their support and presence in the daily fight against breast cancer has been daily encouragement. They are committed to education and community awareness.

Most importantly for me, they have shown me that my fight never ends. After chemotherapy, I felt empty.   There was a huge void in my life. I felt like I was no longer fighting. I missed the routine, sharing time with other cancer patients and the feeling that I was fighting. Being involved and volunteering with Susan G Komen helps fills that void. It allows the fight to continue.  It keeps the hope alive. I am committed to help spread awareness, education and support.

After searching for the “End of Road” sign, I have discovered that there is no such thing. This journey never ends. It changes directions, but never ends. I know that the road behind and in front of me has already been paved. I cannot change it, I can only embrace it. I am simply just the traveler on this journey.