MERRILLVILLE | Surviving breast cancer means fighting back with mind, body, spirit and love against an “awful disease” and “telling your stories," according to more than 50 veterans of that battle who participated in Wednesday’s Celebrate with Style lunch.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure Northern Indiana sponsored the annual Breast Cancer Survivor Luncheon at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza in Merrillville.
The event drew some 150 guests who have had breast cancer or loved someone with the disease, said Quinnesia M. Bell, who chaired the luncheon committee.
Founded in 2006, Komen Northern Indiana serves 27 Indiana counties that stretch from the Illinois to Ohio border and from the Indiana-Michigan state line to near Kokomo.
“We represent 33 percent of Indiana and 35 percent of the state’s population,” said Sheri Miller Story, executive director, who is a four-year breast cancer survivor.
“Since our inception, Komen of Northern Indiana has awarded over $759,000 in grants to organizations throughout the 27 counties we serve," she said.
Miller Story, 43, of South Bend, told about her own journey to survive a rare form of the disease called inflammatory breast cancer that has only a 1 to 5 percent five-year survival rate.
“This is not a disease we need to be embarrassed about,” she told guests during her talk, which included details about why she knew something was wrong with her left breast despite standard mammograms and physician exams.
“There are three things I want you to take away from my story,” Miller Story said. “One, you’ve got to trust yourself. No doctor knows you the way you do. Two, you’ve got to be your own advocate and three, do self breast exams, be aware of your own body.”
She also credited her loving relationship with the man who became her husband after her extensive cancer treatment and modified mastectomy.
“I believe in science. I absolutely believe in science, but I also believe in the spirit. I believe in love,” Miller Story said. “After four years, I am now cancer free, and I now have a wonderful job. I get to fight on behalf of all of us.”