Learning about breast cancer this October

Published 7:05 pm Tuesday, October 30, 2018

As most of you know, I wrote a series of feature stories on local breast cancer survivors and patients this October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Until this year, I never really felt like I knew the whole scope of breast cancer.

No one in my family has been diagnosed with the disease, other than an aunt who married into the family. I’d see the pink ribbons and commercials — often depicting women with no hair who say they have hope — but until this month I didn’t have a lot of background on the disease and how it affects people in different ways. 

Breast cancer has so many different types and stages that not all treatments look alike. Not all patients and survivors are the same.

When I interviewed the four survivors, Renae Willis, Stephenie Wegmann, Lisa Moody and Rebecca Hafner-Camp, they were all at different with their diagnoses. Willis was cancer free, Wegmann had just finished chemotherapy, Moody has no signs of metastatic cancer in her bones and Hafner-Camp was also about to finish her chemotherapy.

While they all had different backgrounds, and different diagnoses of breast cancer, they had a few things in common. One was that none of them would let cancer get to them mentally. Wegmann was so positive when I interviewed her, I remember laughing with her when she mentioned she would forget she was sick until she looked in a mirror. Hafner-Camp wouldn’t let her cancer distract her from making caps, playing music at St. Peter’s Catholic Church and directing the choir at Newnan Presbyterian Church. Willis continued to take care of her family members. Moody continued to assist at LaGrange Academy.

I also learned that sometimes the easiest way to support breast cancer patients is to just be there for them. All of the women mentioned support from their family and friends, whether it was going with them to appointments to providing meals.

I know breast cancer isn’t the number one cause of death for women in the United States (heart disease is), and lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths for women too. And while there’s much to be learned about heart disease and lung cancer, I think breast cancer awareness is more than for supporting others, but to also unite women together. At Paint the Town Pink/H.O.P. E. for a Day walk this year, it was amazing to see how many people stood at the square, hosted various tents on women’s health and celebrated breast cancer survivors.

I want to thank Willis, Wegmann, Moody and Hafner-Camp for opening up to me and letting me talk to them about their cancer diagnosis. 

While I know I barely scratched the surface when it came to learning more about breast cancer, I know more now than I ever had before. I hope you enjoyed these women’s stories and may have also learned more about breast cancer through them.