Kids II

2010 Pink Power Mom Stories

Linda Blair

Corvallis, OR
Children: Brian, Austin, Ava

Linda had just received joyous news that she was pregnant with her third child, then in her nineteeth week of pregnancy, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Those were some of the hardest moments dealing with conflicting emotions and being immediately thrust into a grueling 21 doctor appointments in 21 days to develop a treatment plan. She had aggressive cancer and was lymph node positive, so attacking the cancer with three rounds of chemo while pregnant was a necessity. Then her daughter Ava came three months early, weighing 2 lbs. 2 oz., and was fighting for life in the NICU, while Linda was fighting for hers with treatment. Through a positive outlook and a lot of long days and nights, Linda and Ava each became a miracle. Linda is involved with several breast cancer organizations and is an ambassador for “Children’s Miracle Network” as an event speaker, because as she puts it, she is focused on making things happen rather than watching them happen.

Tami Boehmer

Cincinnati, OH
Children: Chrissy
Forever remembered.

After years of working in public relations at hospitals and healthcare institutions, Tami was suddenly thrust into the life as a patient. In 2002, just four days before her 39th birthday, she was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. With a great prognosis, lumpectomy and chemo and radiation treatments, Tami became cancer free and moved on with her life. Then just months after her five-year cancer-free anniversary, she learned she had a recurrence of breast cancer and it had also spread to distant lymph nodes and her liver. She dedicated her life to healthy living, thoughtful mediation and doing good things for others by volunteering at several organizations including, Imerman Angels, Meals on Wheels, her church and serving on the board of Pink Ribbon Girls. She is the author of “Incurable to Incredible: Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds,” a collection of 27 stories of people who overcame or outlived a terminal prognosis. Tami is devoted to family and embracing her new attitude on life. Her positive outlook is shared by her daughter Chrissy, who volunteers along with her.

Lydia Dody

Fort Collins, CO
Children: Meredith, Ali

Her annual mammogram came back negative, but Lydia was listening to her body and knew something wasn’t right. She requested to have the cystic lumps in her breast checked and two days later she got the devastating news that she had breast cancer. The aggressive invasive lobular cancer doesn’t show up well on mammograms, but within a week she had a bilateral mastectomy and 22 nodes removed. During her chemotherapy treatments she came down with infections and serious side-effects that resulted in several hospital admissions. Following treatment, Lydia was on oral therapy for six and a half years, and had subsequent reconstruction surgeries. While coping with the most difficult times, she wanted her potentially life-robbing disease to have a positive outcome for other women diagnosed with the disease and she founded “Hope Lives.” She knew that while insurance covered treatments if you were lucky, it absolutely did not cover the secondary support services so crucial to physical and emotional recovery. Hope Lives provides free support services, such as nutritional and psychological counseling, massage, child care, house cleaning, and wigs. Lydia also began a small magazine in Northern Colorado called Lydia’s Style that features 20 breast cancer survivors and their stories annually. By giving back, Lydia is sharing with her daughters how uplifting others can bring meaning to your own life.

Cindi Hart

Indianapolis, IN
Children: Madison

In 2004, as a nationally ranked speed skater and bicycle racer, Cindi was one of the healthiest people she knew and focused on her then nine year-old daughter and her husband. With no risk factors, she was shocked to find two cancerous lumps in her breast. Cindi wanted to fight cancer on her own terms, she continued to train athletes, coach and race her way through chemotherapy treatments. Despite a shocking cancer reoccurrence on her 4 year original cancer diagnosis anniversary, Cindi was determined to live her life to the fullest and even coached three USA Special Olympics teams to world games during her treatment and recovery. The empowerment and unity she felt with team training, led her to create “Spokes of Hope,” a way for breast cancer patients and survivors to bond and promote healing through cycling. Cindi is now a proud breast cancer survivor and advocate serving as spokesperson or honorary chairperson on various breast cancer organizations, including the Young Survivors Coalition “Tour de Pink.”

Wendy McCoole

Eliot, ME
Children: Brittany, Ryan
Stepchildren: Erienne, Sean

With her mother having gone through breast cancer three times, it was not a complete surprise when Wendy learned of her breast cancer diagnosis. Nevertheless, she still found herself scared and anxious about what she might expect with her own treatment. Trying to cope with the emotions that come with this diagnosis, she decided to journal online to keep family and friends up to date. The open sharing allowed her and her family to become comfortable discussing Wendy’s breast cancer and treatment plan and even to see the humor in the situation by sharing photos of her painted head on the site she called Bald Wendy. Realizing that being able to talk about her physical and emotional experiences helped her heal, she wanted to give other women the same opportunity, and created the non-profit organization, “BreastCancerStories.org.” The site allows woman to find others just like them going through similar situations, read their stories, and even connect with them so they don’t feel alone in the fight. Through everything, she has taught her children to stay focused on the positive, to not worry about things that “might” happen, and to live their lives to the fullest.

Mary Ann Wasil Nilan

Milford, CT
Children: Betsy, Mary, Eddy
Forever remembered.

Mary Ann is the inspirational founder, president and CEO of the non-profit Get In Touch Foundation. As a breast cancer survivor and health activist since 2004, she seeks to find humor in the face of challenge. Spurred by this optimistic outlook and her passionate commitment to providing free global breast health education for girls, Wasil established The Get In Touch Foundation with her daughters in mind. Ages 12 and 13 at the time of her diagnosis, she determined the need to introduce breast health as a part of their lives for the rest of their lives.

Dolly Ashton-O’Neal

Birmingham, AL
Children: Bert, Camper, Amy
Children: Marc, Kim

As a mother to three children, then ages 14, 12 and 8, Dolly was facing her greatest fear of not being around for them after her 1994 breast cancer diagnosis. Fortunately, after a mastectomy and reconstruction, she was sent home with an all clear from her doctors. She decided then to help others fight the disease, and co-founded the “Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama” in 1996. The flagship fundraising event is an LPGA Pro-Am golf tournament that still continues on an annual basis, along with many new events. Since the foundation’s founding, Dolly has helped raise nearly $3 Million for breast cancer research. When her cancer returned and spread to her bones in 2009, she went into full remission in less than six months, thanks to the many years of research and new treatments funded in part by breast cancer organizations like her own. Dolly counts her blessings every day and has enjoyed seeing her children graduate from high school and college, attend her two sons’ weddings, and meet her first grandchild in August 2010. She has been married to her husband, Bert for nearly 34 years.

Hillary Sweet

Peoria, AZ
Children: Marc, Kim

It was on her then young son’s birthday that Hillary discovered a lump in her breast while taking a shower. She had a benign lump ten years ago, but this one seemed different so she decided to go to the doctor. Despite being told by one doctor to simply monitor it, Hillary went to a top oncologist who told her she should do a bilateral mastectomy because he thought there would be more cancer than just the lump. The oncologist was right and the pathology revealed more extensive cancer and cancer in both breasts. Hillary is thankful for early detection and treatment and believes it is the key to fighting the disease. During that time with the support of her family, she realized that there was something missing from the support groups she and her family attended. So she decided to create the “Friends for Life Foundation” and Kids for Life program (through FFLF), as an upbeat, interesting and social way to provide information and inspiration to support those going through treatment and to support kids who have someone in their lives affected by breast cancer. The foundation was started in her friend Barbara’s memory, who lost her battle with breast cancer, and Hillary has learned that, with her family, she has the power, ability and strength to start something that will ultimately help many people who are coping with cancer.

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