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Breast cancer awareness

Date: 9/27/2011

You will see a lot of pink this month. October is “Breast Cancer Awareness” month and pink is for the (mostly) women who are affected with this cancer.

Baystate Health and their wonderful Breast Cancer department have coordinated the Rays of Hope Walk for 17 years. This year will be the 18th annual Rays of Hope — A Walk Toward the Cure of Breast Cancer and the second annual Run Toward the Cure 8K.

There are over 500 teams with 19,000 participants who have raised $9.5 million since the inception. I am asking you to support the Rays of Hope and help us find the cure for this nasty disease.

I say “nasty” because I am now a two-time survivor (hence my team is “Twice Ain’t Nice”). I wish the Rays of Hope and their wonderful programs were available in 1991 when I was diagnosed for the first time. I was very grateful last year for the support I received and the many programs that are available to those who have or are survivors of breast cancer. I am one of the lucky ones because the cancer did not go to my nodes and spread to other parts of my body. I do not worry about the cancer coming back for a third go round as I had a double mastectomy last year.

I encourage all women to get a mammogram. I was 42 when a timeline mammography was taken. Both of my cancers were found with a mammogram. They were small. Although only the first cancer required radiation treatments I was very fortunate to not have to have chemotherapy.

Today mammograms are much less painful than those of years past and they can detect much smaller tumors (many of which are not cancerous). I had five of them removed before a cancerous one was found.

As I said, I’m one of the lucky ones. Again I urge women to have an annual mammogram; if breast cancer is caught early you may be another lucky one.

I would also like to urge folks to support the Rays of Hope Walk, Oct. 23 by walking with a team or supporting someone or a team that is walking.

To donate online please go to: from there you can search for a participant or team.

Marilyn G. Ishler

South Hadley

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