Please scroll down to read all the stories of our amazing & inspiring recipients
Fort Edwards, NY
Toni with her husband and son Ethan
Upon discovering my own lump in my left breast at 39, I was encouraged by friends to just have it checked out. The mammogram did not detect the lump but the ultrasound did. During my biopsy, the radiologist showed me the tissue floating about and said, "This does not look like cancer. Cancer would sink to the bottom." So when I went alone for my results I was quite shocked.
A few weeks later a lumpectomy was performed. Lymph nodes clear. All seemed fine, probably do radiation and not be bothered by cancer again. But that changed in a matter of weeks when I was told I had Triple Negative Breast Cancer, a very aggressive sub form of breast cancer, so the plan changed.
Six rounds of chemo starting the day after my 40th birthday. During this time I also found out I was a BRCA1 gene carrier which again changed the course. I was to have a bilateral mastectomy and oophorectomy, as this could spread to my ovaries. After the chemo and surgeries were behind me, just after my two year anniversary mark, I found a strange lump in the middle of my chest. I thought maybe a pulled muscle, but my gut knew. A large tumor was growing from a lymph node in my chest wall and around my sternum and a portion of my ribs.
Initially, we were told it could be inoperable but by the grace of God it was removed and radiation would be next after my recovery. The summer of 2012 would bring six weeks of radiation. But cancer was not through with me.
About six months later, a couple weeks shy of Christmas, a scan revealed spots in lymph nodes. Stage 4. "You are no longer curable, but treatable." Very difficult to hear. On February 1, 2013 I began my relationship with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and my journey with experimental drugs. I was on a fabulous drug that decreased my cancer to nearly undetectable by scan for a year and a half.
During this time I was blessed to meet Carin through a friend. Although our paths never crossed at DFCI, we shared our struggles and successes and hearts through email. We found things to laugh about and hope for. I still can't believe her journey ended the way it did. I miss our correspondence and read her old emails often.
I'm still traveling back and forth to Dana Farber. The cancer outsmarted the drug like they said it eventually would, and I have now moved on to a new experimental drug. I am blessed to have a life filled with a loving, helpful, supportive family and friends who have made this 4 and a half year journey as easy as possible under the circumstances. The outpouring of love and generosity for me and my family is of epic proportions! Thank you. And with God always with me, I know he's not done with me yet!
Toni lost her battle with cancer on February 14, 2016.
Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.
April with her husband and three daughers - Fall 2014.
April Gentes-Robert was the receipient for our 1st Annual Walk-a-thon held in September 2014. April was given a terminal diagnosis of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer in the Fall of 2013. During this time, she never once gave up hope and finally received the most amazing news she could ever ask for - "ALL CLEAR, NO EVIDENCE OF THE DISEASE!"
All the news she had been previously told no longer holds true - "We will try chemo treatments until they no longer work and you have about 2 years to live" and "We do not perform mastectomies on metastatic patients" or "You will have to be on hormone therapy for the next 10 years". She proved all the doctors wrong with this new prognosis along with also having a mastectomy earlier this year as the doctors told her she would never be able to undergo this surgery.
We are extremely happy for April and her family and that she can continue enjoying her life with her husband and 3 children without the burden of living with and fighting cancer everyday. We hope her brave battle inspires and provides hope for others.
You can read more about her battle with breast cancer at http://www.help4april.com/