Breast cancer invaded my family

By Felecia Mahone

Breast cancer invaded my family. My mom fought breast cancer with every ounce of strength in her body and it took her. It’s been 37 years since I last saw her and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish she was still here.

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As if that wasn’t devastating enough, breast cancer came for my Aunt Harriet, Aunt Gwen, my Cousin Ursula and Cousin Janice. It took them, too. Why? Who was next – me? Actually, yes. Then, breast cancer came for me at just 27 years old. I later learned that I had a gene mutation that increased my risk of breast cancer.

I was diagnosed at a time when I was supposed to be enjoying life – going out with friends, starting a family, just living life to the fullest. I never thought I was immune to breast cancer but I thought I was the lucky one in the family. I was wrong – it came for me. It came for me with a vengeance. I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, a very aggressive type of this disease. But, I was determined to keep my faith strong, hold my head up high, and give breast cancer a solid fight.

When I was diagnosed, it was hard to believe the number of people that just looked at me with a blank face. Even some of the people I’m closest to. Maybe they thought I was going to pass away like my mom and the other women in my family. By the grace of God, I’m here writing my story, so that I can be part of the efforts to end this disease for good. Because breast cancer should not have to be a death sentence.

I want to change my friends and family see this disease, and have breast cancer be talked about openly. I want to equip women with the right information so that they can know their risks. When I was fighting, I lost my job while I was getting treatment. I know this happens far too often and I want to make sure that other women in communities have access to the financial backing for the care they need.

I’ll never forget the important women in my life who I lost to this disease. In their honor, I will help do everything I can to change this. I have a purpose here. I have a chance that I will never, ever take for granted.

Amy Patel Named 2019 Biggest BigWig

Dr. Amy Patel was named Biggest BigWig at the 2019 Susan G. Komen Kansas & Western Missouri BigWigs Happy Hour Celebration last week. Patel was one of six inaugural BigWigs crowdfunding to support the lifesaving work done by Susan G. Komen. She raised more than $4,800 as part of the affiliate-wide campaign that generated nearly $40,000 between Giving Tuesday & February 21, 2019.

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“I feel so honored and honestly, just grateful to all of those who contributed to my campaign,” Patel said during the Happy Hour at Boulevard Brewing Company. “The reason (I wanted to serve) is simple; I live this every day. As a breast radiologist, I see the struggles women are facing in this part of the state with access to care, including financial disparities, transportation issues, and numerous other challenges which leads to either no evaluation or evaluation when breast cancer has already progressed when we could have detected and treated it early.” Patel was joined by friends, family members and colleagues from Liberty Hospital where she works as the Medical Director of Liberty Hospital Women’s Imaging

“Our goal was to collect a group of women and men dedicated to raising critical funds to support the work we do at Komen,” said Maddison Watkins, Director of Community Outreach. “Amy took on that challenge and exceeded our goals with her energy, tenacity, and results. Our BigWigs shined bright as they served as ambassadors for the work we do at Komen. They involvement was engaging and connected us to many others who hadn’t previously been involved with our organization,” she added.

Funds will still be collected through March 31, 2019, to support the BigWigs campaign. To see all six BigWigs and read about their “Why?” click here.

“It’s so crucial to support organizations like Komen in our fight because honestly, many women’s lives literally depend on it. I was proud to be a part of such an incredible campaign, and I encourage you to spread our message in the community as we continue to work tirelessly towards saving the most lives,” Patel said from the podium after receiving her award.

Watkins said funds raised during the BigWigs campaign will enhance their existing community grants program, support funding for their mobile mammography partnership with Diagnostic Imaging Centers, and will serve to enhance education and awareness efforts throughout Western Missouri and all of Kansas.

The 2019 BigWigs Happy Hour Celebration was the first event hosted by the newly merged Komen Kansas & Western Missouri. Komen Greater Kansas City & Komen Kansas merged efforts last fall to maximize efficiencies and minimize overhead as they worked to reduce breast cancer mortality by 50%.

For more about the new Komen Kansas & Western Missouri go to komenkswmo.org.